17 October 2005 | Anusha Bradley
Consortiums bidding for the £400 million extension of London Underground's East London Line must demonstrate that their plans will benefit local communities.
Transport for London (TfL) said firms that win the contract must show how they have helped small to medium-sized businesses, ethnic minority community-led firms, or those run by women, to tender for the contracts.
It is believed to be the first time a UK public authority has mandated such conditions, which were stipulated by head of TfL, Bob Kiley, previously head of New York's Transit Authority, where the policy is also applied.
A TfL spokesman said: "We are trying to create opportunities for members of the community who traditionally are disadvantaged when bidding for contracts."
The four consortiums must prove they have "really thought about diversity", he added. This could include advertising work in the minority press or making job centres aware of available work. The contract, to be awarded in February, is part of a £1 billion transport project to be completed by 2010, in time for the 2012 Olympic Games. Plans include extending the line north, west and south across the Tube network.
The Civil Engineering Contractors Association is seeking assurance that the policy is in line with EU procurement law. A spokesman told SM: "We are not aware of any other examples of this kind of procurement policy."
TfL however, said it was in full compliance with EU regulations.