"I do have a small announcement.
(Cheers from the chamber and the public gallery)
Thank you for that warm welcome I thought I should update the chamber on the latest position with regards to our finalisation of a new libraries service contract.
Members will recall that in November 2012, on the recommendation of the corporate services committee, it was agreed that John Laing Integrated services should be appointed as preferred bidder for our libraries management contract, their solution being the highest score on price and the quality criteria we'd set.
Preferred bidder status enables the bidder and the council to confirm commitments in the run-up to the formal signing of the contract. However, during the process of clarifying these final terms with with our preferred bidder, they unexpectedly introduced a late amendment relating to capping possible future pensions contributions.
Although there is only a very small chance of this impacting on future costs it does change the risk profile and the commercial position. When changes of this kind are put forward we have to follow the EU procurement rules and act accordingly. As a result, and to ensure fairness to all of the bidders, we have to take a step back in the process to allow all the final bidders time to consider this change and to propose any amendments they wish to their final proposals.
It is important for Council to understand that all bidders are at liberty to adjust their final bid in any way they choose, subject to the procurement rules, and can adjust bid elements completely unrelated to the material change which triggered this reopening of the bidding stage, if they wish to.
Two of the three short-listed bidders have confirmed they will be re-entering the procurement dialogue which is likely to lead to a resubmission of their final bids. Those final bids, including any changes made, will then be evaluated against our original criteria and we will move forward again to the preferred bidder stage with the highest scoring tenderer. This does not necessarily have to be the same bidder as was previously confirmed as the preferred bidder.
Although this does mean a short delay before the contract can be agreed and signed it is necessary in the circumstances.
The council is committed to keeping all the branches of our libraries open and we are determined to secure the best value for all local taxpayers through our financial negotiations.
Thank you, Mr Mayor."