Suffolk County Council has restarted the tender race for its £500m highways maintenance contract despite announcing Balfour Beatty Living Places as preferred bidder last month.
The deal is worth an initial £200m over five years with the potential to hit £500m over a ten-year extension.
The council said that despite a “period of extensive and constructive discussion with Balfour Beatty Living Places” it “has not been able to confirm and clarify commitments made to the point where it can provisionally award the contract.”
The council added: “It has therefore been decided that the procurement process will revert to the previous stage where Suffolk County Council can liaise with any, or all, of the bidders who submitted final tenders (including Balfour Beatty Living Places), before again identifying a preferred bidder.”
The move means rivals Amey, Carillion/Mott MacDonald, Enterprise Mouchel and MGWSP (May Gurney/WSP) are back in the race.
The tender process had already lasted nine months before the unveiling of Balfour Beatty in December.
The contract was due to go live on the streets of Suffolk in April but will now be pushed back.
The winner will be responsible for the design and implementation of highway maintenance and improvement works, winter gritting, street lighting, traffic signals and bridge works throughout the county.
Suffolk wants to achieve £2m of recurring revenue savings in year 2013/14 under the deal which could last up to ten years.
Lucy Robinson, Suffolk County Council’s director of economy, skills and environment, said: “We are of course disappointed not to be moving forward as announced in December however I’d like to reassure people that this does not affect our overall ambition for highways maintenance in Suffolk.
“Providing a quality service whilst saving taxpayers money remains our focus and the county council is continuing work towards that aim.
“This does mean a delay to the start of the new contract as we want to ensure that the matter is handled properly, that staff are kept informed and that a smooth transition is made.
“We will therefore be working on interim arrangements to ensure that service delivery is uninterrupted.
“We will provide more information as soon as we can.”