MSP for Dunfermline Sets Record Straight on Forth Replacement Crossing Contracts

Bill Walker, MSP for Dunfermline, has spoken out about confusion over the Scottish Government’s role in awarding contracts for the Forth Replacement Crossing (FRC).
He said: “There has been a lot of coverage about the FRC contracts not being awarded to Scottish firms, with fingers pointing at the Scottish Government. This arises from confusion over aspects of the supply chains to which the Scottish Government is not party.
“The Scottish Government did not award Steel Fabrication contracts to foreign firms. It was not their decision to make: the award of subcontracts for the fabrication of steel was not a Scottish Government procurement.
“The involvement of the Scottish Government and Transport Scotland ended last year, with the successful award to the consortium of the Forth Crossing Bridge Constructors (FCBC).
“This meant that the Scottish Government secured a fixed price, with the risk of further procurement being on the shoulders of the successful contractors. All the contracts were awarded significantly below budget and saved the public purse hundreds of millions of pounds.
“FRC contractors have no requirement to provide Scottish Ministers with detailed supply chain information for their subcontractors. Ministers have no direct knowledge, involvement or influence over the award process. These are entirely a commercial matter for FCBC.
He revealed that yesterday Transport Minister Keith Brown met senior representatives from Tata Steel, following speculation that the company bid for the fabrication of structural steelwork as part of the ongoing procurement process.
Mr Walker said: “It was confirmed Tata Steel played only an indirect role in tendering for the supply of steel plate. There were no Scottish bids for FCBC’s steel fabrication subcontracts. Tata Steel manufactures steel plate and is not a steel fabricator.
He added: “The Scottish Government is obviously eager to ensure Scottish firms receive contracts and has lobbied the EU and the UK Government to allow economic impact to be taken into account in awarding such contracts.
“They are also introducing a Sustainable Procurement Bill to ensure contract opportunities are advertised or awarded through Public Contracts Scotland, so Scottish businesses can find and win contracts.
“This Bill will see public bodies adopting streamlined and standardised procurement processes friendly to Scottish businesses. Further, it will ensure Scottish firms have the right to access information about all contract award decisions and to challenge decisions they believe are unfair.”
Mr Walker said that the FRC was already boosting the Scottish construction industry:
“Morrison Construction, for example, is a member of the FCBC consortium delivering the new bridge and connecting roads. The FRC will secure thousands of jobs, deliver vocational training positions, offer prospects for the long-term unemployed and maximise Modern Apprenticeship opportunities.
“I don’t think anyone can honestly believe other than that the SNP Scottish Government wants Scottish firms to benefit from contracts.”

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