E-Tender process will delay Canon's Field


E-Tender process will delay Canon’s Field

Ben Lynch, chairman of the Mitchelstown Leisure Group, argues that while there is a delay, it does mean that the best person possible will be given the contract.

Thursday, 31 January 2013
9:00 AM GMT

Now that the leisure centre is a certainty in the landscape of Mitchelstown, a delay is the last thing anyone wants, but according to the original plans, building was due to start early in the new year and now the tender may not be awarded until May.

Chairman of the group, Ben Lynch, argues that while there is a delay, it does mean that the best person possible will be given the contract.

“I don’t think the people of Mitchelstown would be much pleased if the eventual contractor to build the Leisure Centre wasn’t able to complete the job,” was the reaction of Ben Lynch, Chairman of the Mitchelstown Leisure Group when The Avondhu raised a query about who might win the tender for the proposed development in the Canon’s Field.

“Our professional team have set the bar quite high for those who wish to tender, in terms of recent experience and turnover, track record of completing contracts in time and on budget, and not least the ability to raise a substantial bond to ensure the completion of the development in the event of the builder getting into difficulties.”

This E-Tender process, while making everything more traceable, also means that a lot of small local contractors will not be eligible to apply, however Mr Lynch pointed out that they would not have been considered anyway if they hadn’t previously successfully completed projects to this scale and that they could be involved in sub contract work.

“I know there is a wish to have as much local involvement in the construction as possible as we are all aware of the many excellent builders and tradesmen seeking good work in Mitchelstown and beyond, but the greater responsibility on the Leisure Group is to ensure that whoever gets the contract is able to deliver the final product for our town. Whether that is a local builder or a nationally-familiar firm will not be known for probably two to three months. One way or another, we will be trying to influence the builder to sub-contract as much as possible locally.”

As reported in last week’s Avondhu, the Leisure Group have had to take the decision to advertise the project on the government’s e-tender website in order to conform with EU regulations or forfeit additional funding for the project. This funding, managed by Ballyhoura Development on behalf of the Department of the Environment, originates in Brussels.

“This e-tendering process allows any suitable firm to apply to tender for the job. That should level the playing field for all potential applicants, but in reality the number of firms that had already expressed interest, either having learned about it through the construction industry grapevine, media coverage or through the earlier advertisements for Expressions of Interest, probably covered most of the country anyway. Therefore, while this process probably adds transparency to the process, it may or may not have a significant effect on the eventual short list.

“The process of transparency offers protection to those who feel they may have been eliminated unfairly from tendering for the contract. There are a number of phases along the way and, if a firm is eliminated, they have two weeks to appeal that decision, during which time the whole process cannot proceed. That has the obvious effect of slowing down the ultimate decision on who constructs the Leisure Centre. We have now been given a schedule by our QS which shows tendering complete by early May, the contract being awarded a week later and after that it is up to the builder to move on site as quickly as possible. The construction is expected to take up to a year.

“Any delay around the completion of the project is the last thing the Leisure Group want at this point, but it would be extremely foolish of us if we were to move ahead without doing everything possible to secure the maximum amount of funding, from whatever source.

“The Canon’s Field will become the focus of activity rather than controversy over the next few months and, once complete, will be a great facility for everyone in Mitchelstown to enjoy and be proud of.”

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