13 April 2010 | Helen Gilbert
A London council is facing a High Court battle over the expected award of a £50 million four-year parking deal.
Car park and traffic warden operator Apcoa claims it unfairly lost out on the Westminster City Council contract and has filed a lawsuit, which states that the council breached procurement rules by using “unpublished and unannounced criteria” in deciding which firm to employ.
Apcoa, which is best known for running the parking at Gatwick and Heathrow airports and in a number of other London boroughs, alleges the council directed the contract towards one preferred tenderer – Mouchel – before bids from itself and another rival for the deal, NSL, had been evaluated. It is demanding the process be re-run in a manner it claims is fair.
A spokesman for Westminster City Council confirmed Mouchel, the publicly listed engineering company, was the preferred bidder, but added no contract had been awarded to it.
The council will now fight the suit. Kevin Goad, head of commissioning for city management, said the authority stopped the procurement process for its on-street parking enforcement following the discovery of a flaw in the contract process.
“This flaw came to light as a result of debriefing the different bidders,” he said. “To be fair and transparent to those involved in the process we, as a result, decided to end the procurement process.
“We have now started a new accelerated procurement process with a successful tenderer expected to be announced next month. As part of procurement process the council reserves the right not to award a contract and we remain confident this claim will be dismissed.”