Away with the Ferries

Procurement
27th February 2019

Simon Lydiard asks how could it all go so wrong for the Department for Transport’s “no deal” ferries contract.

A recently established company which had never run a ferry service, and owned no ferries, was awarded a ferries contract worth £13.8m. The reason? Extreme urgency. Apparently, a “no deal Brexit” was “unforeseeable”. The contract was awarded by the DfT. The Department used Article 32 of the Public Contract Directive. That allows for negotiation without public competition in the case of extreme urgency. To be fair, we’ve only known for two and a half years that Brexit was coming!

It gets worse. Transport Secretary, Chris Grayling, defended the deal as good for a British company. Except, Seabourne was allegedly backed by Arklow, an Irish company. Though Seabourne were never able to provide written evidence of this, and Arklow claim they never made a firm commitment. And now say they won’t. Collapse of contract.

It gets even worse. The port to be used was Ramsgate. It can’t accommodate modern-sized ferries (especially if they actually existed). And it can’t be made ready in time. Plus, neither Seabourne (nor Arklow) had an agreement with Ramsgate to use the port.

Could it get worse? Yes. Now we know the National Audit Office warned DfT that Seabourne was unable satisfactorily to meet the criteria of the contract, and, far from no public money being spent, as Grayling claimed, £800k had been spent on advisors.

Chris Grayling was entering choppy waters with this contract. Now he hasn’t got any ferries to escape in. And no port in which to weather the storm.

Simon Lydiard is an Associate of DragonGate and a Founding Partner of Breaking Barriers Innovations.

Related articles

Pathways, Place and Priorities

This week Breaking Barriers Innovations hosted the “Pathways, Place and Priorities” Roundtable, discussing the potential impact of digital technology upon the health and social care workforce. We spoke to DragonGate & BBI Programme Manager Rahim Daya, to get his insights into how this fits into the vision for the NHS Long Term Plan

Read more

Connecting the Regions Through Clean Growth

In light of DragonGate’s recent “Connecting the Regions Through Clean Growth” Roundtable, DragonGate Programme Manager George Evans-Jones answers our questions regarding the Clean Growth Grand Challenge

Read more

Out of Sync

Tim Philpott reflects on how local authority property transformation spending may be missing out on the bigger picture

Read more

Passport Blues

Simon Lydiard reflects on the outcry over the contract for new, post-Brexit passports being awarded to a company based in the EU

Read more

Building Transformation in the Public Sector

In his interesting piece in The Times on the 20th January, Matthew Parris uses the recently published ONS figures that highlight the severe health inequality across the nation. The figures present a jarring picture of imbalance between the London population and the rest of the country…

Read more

Relocation is Good for Our Nation’s Health

In his interesting piece in The Times on the 20th January, Matthew Parris uses the recently published ONS figures that highlight the severe health inequality across the nation. The figures present a jarring picture of imbalance between the London population and the rest of the country…

Read more

Out of Sync: Local Authority Transformation is Missing Out on the Bigger Picture

Ongoing DragonGate research has established that 2018-19 will be a high watermark for Local Government property transformation, with approximately 70 projects due to be completed over the next 24 months. However, with adjacent sectors such as the NHS, Higher Education and Central Government implementing similar programmes for property transformation there is little evidence that opportunities for place-based collaboration are truly being embraced.

Read more

Prime for transformation?

The sustainability and transformation partnerships (STPs) programme should harness and drive digital innovation as a positive force to help overcome barriers to the integration of health and social care and improve standards of delivery

Read more

And Justice for All

Nothing less than a ‘whole-place’ pooling of public service budgets and devolution of criminal justice system powers to local level can create the conditions for community transformation

Read more