Recovery firm slams police contract choice
A NEW police contract which gives a Blyth-based firm responsibility for its vehicle recovery service across a large swathe of Northumberland has been branded ‘ridiculous’ by Berwick MP Sir Alan Beith.
He has warned that Northumbria Police’s decision to award a four year contract to a firm in the south-east of the county will lead to delays in accident clean-up speeds and act as a further drain on police resources in the far north.
“It’s a ridiculous situation,” said Sir Alan. “I think Northumbria Police should really have sub-divided the contract into different parts of the county, including one for north Northumberland which could have gone to a local firm.
“It is clearly going to take a Blyth-based firm much longer to deal with a vehicle recovery incident in Berwick given the time it will take them to get here in the first place.
“There will subsequently be a waste of police time and resources because they will be unable to leave the scene of an incident until the vehicle recovery is complete.”
He has taken the matter up with the Chief Constable of Northumbria Police and written to Vera Baird, the recently elected Police and Crime Commissioner.
“I’ve had a response from the Chief Constable which I wasn’t altogether happy about,” said Sir Alan.
“It explained that the contracts had been split into different parts of the force area so there is one for Tyneside, one for Sunderland and so on.
“However, in my view there is no way north Northumberland should be tied into a contract covering the rest of the county.”
It is understood two contracts have been issued for the whole of Northumberland, one based in Blyth that will also have responsibility for the north and the other in Tynedale to cover the west of the county.
The contract decision has also infuriated Berwick-based vehicle recovery firm Greenwoods 24/7 which had put in a bid for the contract.
Owner Peter Greenwood said: “As far as I know, we were the only Berwick company to tender for the contract so we were dismayed to find out it had been awarded to a firm so far away from here.
“It’s obvious to us that we’d be able to deal with an incident in this area far quicker than they could.
“I wasn’t happy with the decision taken at Police HQ and told Sir Alan Beith about it. It’s something I feel very strongly about and don’t intend to let it lie.”
However, police insist the choice to award the contract to the Blyth-based firm was clear cut.
A police spokesman said: “Following a strict and transparent procurement process, Northumbria Police recently entered into a new contract for vehicle recovery across the force area.
“All the successful and unsuccessful contractors have been advised of the outcome.”
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Friday 24 May 2013
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