28th May 2020 Christmas Lights Procurement

Report for councillors:                 To agree the procurement process for hire of Christmas light across both towns

Issued to:                                         Town Council Ext meeting 28/05/20

Purpose of Report

To approve a clear procurement process for the provision of replacement Christmas lights in both Burnham and Highbridge.

 

Background

Burnham-on-Sea

On 20th October 2015, Christmas lights were purchased for Burnham using £10,000[1] of the Tesco s.106 fund. The lights belong to, are stored and insured by the Town Council.

Until Christmas 2018, the annual lights installation had been carried out by the Burnham Chamber of Trade at a discounted rate using a grant from the Town Council.  During 2019, the responsibility for the installation of the Burnham lights transferred from the Chamber of Trade to the Town Council, with increased installation costs as the former discounted installer was unavailable. 

The electrician who undertook the 2019 lights installation in Burnham reported to the office that the lights are at the end of their useful life. Many of the bulbs have been replaced and there is a marked difference between the light emitted by the old and new bulbs as they are changed to better LEDs. It was reported that the lights had been tested when they were taken down in 2018 and repairs made. However, on installation in 2019 some of those lights that appeared to be in good order, failed and some caught fire.

Highbridge

The Highbridge Christmas lights were not purchased by the Town Council, are not insured or stored by the Town Council. The Council had made grants to the Highbridge Chamber of Trade in respect of the Christmas lights, but ownership remains with the Chamber.

The lights installation in Highbridge has to date been undertaken by the Chamber. In 2019, the Chairman of the Highbridge Chamber of Trade stated that the Chamber would install the Highbridge Christmas lights in that year for the final time.

Min ref: 23/19/TIMP resolved that the Council would look into entering into a contract with an outside body for the supply, storage, repair and installation of Christmas lights in both towns.

Budget & quotes

A sum of £25k was estimated and put in budget for the financial year 20/21 to cover replacement lights and their installation, as well as repairs to the high streets’ infrastructure.

This budgeted sum breaks down as:

£4110             installation cost provided by electrician for Burnham

£2000             installation cost estimate based on 2019 electrician for Highbridge

£10000           estimate for lights based on quotes & costs to other Councils

£1876             Solar lights hire at south end of Burnham

£17986          

£7014             Available for repairs, professional fees & contingency (2019 £2680 repairs estimate for Burnham only)

Quotations from specialist lights suppliers

The office sought 4 quotes from Christmas light companies; 3 responded and arranged to quote, 2 quotes were actually received. One of the companies chose to not offer installation. One of the companies resubmitted a quote based on 5 years hire after papers had gone out (presented at C, below). The quotes requested were for all possible options and broken down to allow the Council to choose if it should buy new lights for Burnham, it could also choose to buy new lights for Highbridge. Or the TC could choose to hire lights in one or both towns for either 3 or 5 years. The quotes were requested to cover all bases.


 Quote A 3-year hireQuote B 3-year hireQuote (A) C   5-year hireQuote (B) D   5-year hire 
Highbridge Lights Hire per year £6,1443,4107,9212608 
Burnham Lights Hire per year £89605916included in above4733
Annual testing & storage per year for 3 yearsincluded500included500
(Totals hire)(15104)(9826)(7921)(7841)
Highbridge Installation per year for 3 years £ 3325 3325
Burnham installation per year for 3 years £ 6100 6100 
(Totals install) (9425) (9425) 
Total annual contract cost per year 19251 17,266 
    
 Company ACompany B 
Purchase estimates £34,278.4023,918.00 

Town Improvements Committee 18/05/20

At its meeting on Monday 18th May, the Town Improvements Committee (TIMPS) considered the quotes received in respect of replacing the Christmas lights, and looked at all the options available, including alternative suggestions. Although an alternative method of lights provision, following the Portishead model (volunteer fundraising group) was popular, the Committee agreed this would take time to set-up and was not viable for 2020. It agreed that it wanted to provide the towns with a Christmas lights display this year, and resolved that:

For cost-effective efficiency, the Town Council should enter into a three-year hire contract with a single company across both towns to provide Christmas lights, and use the Town Council’s local installers to put up/take down the lights.

A hire arrangement would include annual delivery and collection of lights, storage, testing and repair.

The TIMPS decision that the same supplier should be used for both towns, means the total contract cost for product hire only, based on the quotes first received, would be £29,478 over the three-year period (£9826 per year). I have checked with our auditor as to whether this is likely to raise a procurement problem if the total 3-year contract cost for both towns combined exceed £25k (the contract finder level) and he states it will. He confirms that the TC will not be permitted to disaggregate a contract over the two towns to avoid this.

As the best total cost from a single supplier is more than £25k, the TC should revisit the procurement and choose to either agree a list of companies to invite to tender (based on specific, reasoned criteria) or approve that an invitation to tender is advertised on Contracts Finder.

Procurement process

Should the Council decide it wants to follow the TIMPS decision and procure a 3-year contract for the provision of Christmas lights, it is suggested that an appropriate route agreed for procurement would be to advertise for Expressions of Interest (EOI) on Contract Finder and share with known suppliers. This can be undertaken immediately and will remain open for 2 weeks to allow tender documents to be drawn up and approved by the Council at its scheduled meeting on 22nd June.

It is recommended that the Town Council authorises a working party to work alongside staff to take consider EOIs and receive presentations/tender submissions before the Council awards a final contract.

A proposed schedule:

Monday 1st June 2020       Expressions of Interest advert goes out, to run 2 weeks closing Friday 12th June

Monday 15th June 2020    Expressions of Interest submissions assessed by TIMPS working party, tender documentation finalised

Monday 22nd June 2020    Tender papers approved by Council

Tuesday 23rd June 2020   Tender papers sent out, allow 3 weeks for submissions to be prepared and submitted

Tuesday 14th July 2020    Formal opening of tender submissions, 12.00 noon at Council Offices (Clerk & one Councillor per Regs), technical assessment undertaken & formal invitations sent out for interviews.

28th  29th 30th July 2020    Presentations and interviews of contractors with working group, initial allowance of 4 interviews per day (dates to be reduced if possible)

3rd August 2020      Tender reports and formal assessment notes submitted to Town Council for decision

Tender awarded following August Council meeting, lights to be in place for late November switch on.

This suggested method of procurement will give us the opportunity to receive multiple quotes and request all companies to include images of the proposed designs, which can be shared amongst councillors.

Tender preparation and professional fees

Once the EOI advert has been listed, the tender papers must be prepared. This is a technical and time-consuming exercise that must be correct to avoid any disagreements with contractors.

Any tender papers will include The Construction (Design & Management) Regulations 2015 requirements in the same way as a design and build contract. It must include details of the technical assessment (health & safety compliance, qualifications & licenses, design criteria) and must include clear records of it i.e., through an assessment matrix (perhaps 70:30 technical/interview) that could be used to evidence decisions. If tender papers are not appropriate for the task required, this can cause contractual problems, which would cause reputational damage to the Council and ultimately it could jeopardise the lights project.

In order to ensure the specifications for the lighting scheme reflects what the Council wants to achieve, I would like to instruct technical expertise by way of the surveyor already working with the Council on the Princess and seafront works. This same person undertook the procurement for Weston-Super-Mare’s Christmas lights scheme in 2019 and is qualified to produce the technical specification & assessment. He is also able to undertake health & safety checks and final sign-off once installed. No member of staff has this level of technical expertise. Professional fees would fall within the Clerk/RFO’s authority to spend and can be taken from the budget as listed above.

Repairs to infrastructure

Electricians involved in the 2019 lights installations for both towns have reported that repairs to sockets and existing brackets are advised and, in some cases, required for 2020 use.

This office can instruct electrician to undertake all repairs to the sockets and fittings. However, if the Council resolves to enter into a lights contract, this would be unwise whilst we don’t know what sockets and brackets will be used in a 2020 display.

Budget considerations

Using the budget information available (above), it is evident that this Council is looking at an anticipated total annual spend of c.£18k for hire and installation of all lights in both towns.

The Council has experienced local contractors available to instruct for the installation and dismantling of displays. However, consideration should be given to recognising that this is a competitive market and therefore seek a contract at that known £18k budget limit just in case a supplier can provide lights and installation for the same cost.

Considering the need for infrastructure repairs, there is an advantage in requiring the supplier of the lighting scheme to instruct those repairs themselves. This would still incur additional cost to the council for this year, but it would reduce the staff time costs in scheduling and managing that liaison repair, as well as reduce the risk of miscommunications or the like.

Report author:          Sam Winter, Town Clerk

Report Date:               22nd May 2020

[1] Value shown in the accounts cashbook for the 2015/16 financial year

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