Agenda item

Children's Transport Contract Procurement 2024


The Head of Education Support Services introduced the report and stated that the contracts for Children’s Transport provision were extended by one year and agreed by Cabinet on 15 March 2023. The extension was agreed from September 2023 to July 2024. The provision of home to school transport is a statutory duty on the Local Authority and a re-procurement exercise is required. This report recommends a full re-procurement of the Childrens home to school Transport for the start of the academic year 2024/2025 to ensure best value is achieved and to allow for new transport operators to join during the contract period.


The Head of Education Support Services stated that under the current framework to procure transport operators, once closed, no new operators can join. Market engagement with operators has been completed and they have also looked at what other Local Authorities do. The Home to School transport policy will be reviewed shortly as new statutory guidance was received in June. Further updates will be provided to the Committee.


Consultation between Essex and Thurrock regarding the license Essex pays for and if Thurrock will be required to contribute. The Dynamic Purchasing system will give Thurrock a greater pool of operators who can come on board at any time. They will have to go through compliance and obtain a license. Some of the operators Thurrock use are already onboarded with Essex.


·       The Vice Chair commented that she found it unlikely Essex would not charge Thurrock for the onboarding and sought a direct comparison of costs now and what they will be

·       The Vice Chair queried what the impact would be on local operators. The Head of Education Support Services stated that they have met with operators. They are aware they can complete the onboarding and apply for contracts as they do now, they do not want to put any operators out of business.

·       The Parent Governor representative highlighted the importance of autistic children needing stability and the same operator is important.

·       Members raised concern about recommending option 4 in the absence of the costs information. They noted the decision is due to be made by Cabinet on 13 December and the next committee meeting for Children’s Services Overview and Scrutiny is not until January

·       The Vice Chair commented that she would not want to recommend option 4 without having the costings confirmed

·       The Chair proposed alternative wording to recommendation 1.1 adding he words “subject to comparative costing with current system” which was seconded by Councillor Abbas

·       The Chair, Councillor Abbas and Councillor Pearce agreed with recommendation 1.1. Councillor Muldowney, Councillor Hartstean and Councillor Panjala did not agree to recommendation 1.1.

·       All Committee members agreed to recommendation 1.2.




1.1       Children’s Overview and Scrutiny recommend Cabinet agreethe recommendation for the Council to collaborate with Essex County Council (ECC) on a procurement exercise for a Dynamic Purchasing System (DPS) subject to comparative costing with current system and to undertake further competition via the DPS to award contracts for Children’s home to school transport as set out in section 3.  

1.2      Children’s Overview and Scrutiny recommend Cabinet agree that the Director of Children’s Services, in consultation with the Education Portfolio Holder is given delegated authority to award contracts following further competitions under the DPS.



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