The Corporate Director – Education and Family Support presented a report in relation to the above matter.
He explained by way of introduction, that following a procurement process in 2018, the Council awarded a contract for the supply of home-to-college transport to First Cymru Buses Ltd. That contract was now due to expire on 7 January 2021.
Following the report to Cabinet in September 2020, on the outcome of the public consultation on the proposed changes to the Council’s Home-to-School/College Transport Policy, he reminded Members, that Cabinet determined that Education and Family Support Directorate officers, together with transportation officers, continue dialogue with private sector transport providers, Bridgend College and other post-16 providers, in order to make a saving. This also more significantly assisted creating a budget which will provide students with a ‘travel pass’. This would be more flexible than traditional home-to-college transport and would be a more ‘adult’ solution for young people.
In order for the identified engagement to progress with all prospective suppliers and stakeholders and for a range of options to be proposed for consideration by Cabinet on the future arrangements for a post-16 travel pass, it was proposed that the Council should suspend the contract procedure rules and enter into a contract with First Cymru Buses Ltd on the same terms as the current contract from 8 January 2021 until 25 June 2021 (ie the end of the current academic year). This is necessary as work to progress the development of a travel pass and an assessment of the development required by the Council to bring this forward to fruition, will likely not be completed until the end of April 2021, at the earliest. There is also a review ongoing by Welsh Government into Learner Travel, the main focus of which was in respect of post-16 learners, added the Corporate Director – Education and Family Support. This was due to be concluded in March 2021.
Under the Council’s contract procedure rules, the Council is required to tender and advertise contracts such as this one on ‘Sell2Wales’ as a minimum. The Council, in entering into a contract in this manner, will be unable to comply with those requirements.
The Corporate Director – Education and Family Support concluded his submission, by advising that Cabinet should be aware, that by not complying with its contract procedure rules the Council is exposed to the risk of potential challenge from other suppliers of such products, as we are entering into a contract without any competition which breaches the requirements of procurement legislation.
The Cabinet Member – Education and Regeneration advised, that interesting dialogue was ongoing with First Cymru and other third parties with regard to seeking a more innovative and adult method of transport provision for young adults and the proposals in the report, gave the education authority an opportunity to further progress those negotiations, with a view to putting in place a new form of transport arrangements for 16 plus and Home-to-College students.
RESOLVED: That Cabinet:
• Suspended the relevant parts of the Council’s contract procedure rules in respect of the requirements relating to the procurement of the contract for the supply of home-to-college transport; and
• Delegated authority to the Corporate Director Education and Family Support in consultation with the Interim Chief Officer – Finance, Performance and Change and Section 151 Officer and Chief Officer - Legal, HR and Regulatory Services, to enter into a contract for the supply of home-to-college transport with First Cymru Buses Ltd from 8 January 2021 until 25 June 2021.