Tuesday, April 06, 2010

Where will the dam crack first ?

Simon English is on the ball again. As storm clouds gather over parking enforcement contracts across the country more and more information is being leaked by individuals concerned that they may be held responsible for the failings of others.

A reminder to all the parking officials across the length and breadth of the land that YOU will be PERSONALLY liable should it be shown that you have acted criminally or even recklessly. It is worth repeating the extract from the Local Authorities (Indemnities for Members and Officers) Order 2004
Restrictions on indemnities
6. - (1) No indemnity may be provided under this Order in relation to any action by, or
failure to act by, any member or officer which -
(a) constitutes a criminal offence; or
(b) is the result of fraud, or other deliberate wrongdoing or recklessness on the
part of that member or officer.

As indicated previously, there are lawyers sitting waiting and the evidence is building. The amount of evidence is growing by the day and more and more are looking to get the matter before the courts.

Westminster faces court fight over its car parking deal
Simon English
Westminster city council is facing a High Court battle amid allegations of favouritism in the awarding of a £50 million four-year parking contract.

In a lawsuit filed over the weekend Apcoa, one of the world's biggest parking enforcement firms, claims it was cheated out of the contract by what it sees as improper behaviour.
The Westminster parking contract is one of the most lucrative in the industry and competition to secure the tender is intense.

In February Westminster announced that Mouchel,the publicly listed engineering company, was the preferred bidder ahead of incumbent NSL and Apcoa, formerly known as the Airport Parking Company of America.

The lawsuit says Westminster broke the law by using “unpublished and unannounced criteria” in deciding which firm to employ.
Apcoa alleges the council “steered” the contract towards “one particular preferred tenderer” even before the three bids had been evaluated.

The allegations could prove highly embarrassing to Westminster and potentially costly to council taxpayers.

In February Westminster pulled the press release announcing that Mouchel had won the contract from its website, but offered no explanation why.

It later emerged that it is running the entire bidding process again, at a cost of around £100,000, following what Leith Penny, the council's strategic director of city management, claimed was “the discovery of a flaw in the contract document”.

The lawsuit suggests it was the bidding process itself which was at fault.
Apcoa, owned by French private-equity house Eurazeo, is best known for running parking at Gatwick and Heathrow. It is demanding either that it is awarded the Westminster contract or else compensated for loss of profits.

The suit, which names the Lord Mayor and citizens of the city of Westminster as defendants, says: “The claimant's case is that the exercise ought to have been (and ought now to be) re-run in a manner that is fair... the claimant claims damages in any event.” Apcoa said it would have won had the process been fair.

Westminster said it will fight the suit. Kevin Goad, head of commissioning for city management, said: “As part of the procurement process the council reserves the right not to award a contract and we remain confident this claim will be dismissed.”

Westminster says it will unveil the result of the new procurement process next month.

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