Council signals the end of the road for May Gurney contract as boss vows to appeal the decision

May Gurney Group Office, Trowse, near Norwich. Photo: Steve Adams

May Gurney Group Office, Trowse, near Norwich. Photo: Steve Adams - Credit: Archant

Council chiefs have signalled the end of the road for a decade-long deal with Norfolk firm May Gurney to maintain the county's highways after failing to shortlist the firm for a new contract.

May Gurney has delivered the existing contract since 2004 as part of a broader strategic partnership with the council and Mott MacDonald - previously agreeing on a 18-month extension to the deal until March next year.

But County Hall has ruled out the Trowse-based firm at the first stage of its procurement process - opting instead to shortlist three other bidders for the £39m-a-year contract, which will initially run for five years from next April.

The move is a huge blow to the firm which last week pledged to maintain a strategic base in Norfolk after announcing a merger deal with Berkshire-based Costain, which will see the firm's HQ shift to Maidenhead.

The EDP Top 100 firm employs 800 staff in Norfolk and works with more than 260 firms and later this year will operate a similar Suffolk Council Council highways contract after securing the deal in partnership with contractor WSP UK.


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Interim chief executive Willie MacDiarmid said the firm would appeal the decision admitting he was surprised it had been ruled out in the first stage of the two-part procurement process, before being allowed to submit any costings for the new contract.

'We believe it's a big decision and does have a big impact on our business,' he said. 'May Gurney has been about in Norfolk for a long time and we have had this contract since 2004, and we have got some 800 staff working there and we supply some 260 local suppliers that supply that contract. It would be remiss of me not to be giving as much focus on this as I possibly can.'

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He said his focus was on the appeal process and would not be drawn on what the jobs impact could be for the firm.

'It's too early to speculate on what the impact could be,' he said. 'Our primary focus at the moment is on how we can make sure that the appeal we have put in is successful.'

He added: 'We have extended the contact and people have been very happy with it and have given us good customer feedback. We are disappointed, but May Gurney is a big organisation, and while this contact is very important to us, we have won contracts with Suffolk County Council, and we have had two good wins with our water contracts, and May Gurney is still in a very strong position.

'What makes this more pertinent is the history and commitment May Gurney has and continues to have with Norfolk.'

John Joyce, the council's assistant director (highways) said: 'May Gurney is a longstanding partner of the council and we are sorry that they didn't make it on to the final shortlist. This isn't a reflection of their performance on the current contract. However, this is a significant new contract. We have followed a very open, fair but rigorous procurement process and three other proposals achieved higher scores against the criteria set.

'May Gurney have said they wish to appeal part of the process and we will of course consider that appropriately.'

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