Decision details

Direct award contracts for the provision of Asymptomatic Community Testing

Decision Maker: Officer Delegated Decision

Decision status: Recommendations Approved

Is Key decision?: Yes

Is subject to call in?: No


To direct award contracts for the provision of Asymptomatic Community Testing in accordance with the Council’s Scheme of Delegation item 32 for Chief Executive to take all actions considered necessary under extreme emergency and Public Contract Regulations 2015 (PCR15) 32 “Use of negotiated procedure without prior publication”, where a state of an urgency (emergency) can be substantiated by the contracting authority.


Cllr. Spencer Flower (Leader) and Cllr. Laura Miller have been consulted (by email).


Reasons for the decision:

The Department Health and Social Care announced the roll out of community asymptomatic testing using lateral flow devices for those who are permitted to leave home for work (including essential voluntary work) and who are unable to access asymptomatic testing through other routes. This is particularly for those who work in providing critical services to support communities or respond to the pandemic and those at higher risk of infection and transmission themselves or who interact with those who are at higher risk.


There is therefore a requirement to put contracts in place with providers for this service across the County of Dorset. Following urgent supplier engagement discussions, two providers have been identified who are able to deliver at the required pace, which are:


·       Event Security Southern (ESS) – for the Dorset Council area

·       Showsec – for the BCP Council area


Both providers are already engaged with each council for the delivery of the local authority asymptomatic community testing therefore are deemed best placed to expand this into community testing. There is a real urgency around the award of these contracts for the delivery of asymptomatic community testing which will be a value over £500k and as such, cannot wait until a meeting of the Cabinet to approve this expenditure as a key decision.


The proposed contract values are as follows.


1. BCP Council, via Showsec: Total estimated costs: £594,792


These costs are based on:

  • Three static employee test sites at: Bournemouth Pavilion, Littledown Centre and Poole Stadium up to 31 March 2021.
  • Half term mobile (van) testing – two locations across BCP per day for eight days
  • Future mobile (van) testing post half term undecided but estimate is based on two sites visited each week – so costs increase the more testing undertaken.


2. Dorset Council: Total estimated costs: £821,185

  • Five static employee test sites at: Wareham, Sherborne, Wimborne, Bridport and Dorchester up to 31 March
  • Half term mobile (van) testing – two locations across Dorset Council per day for eight days
  • Future mobile (van) testing post half term undecided but estimate based on two sites visited each week – so costs increase the more testing is undertaken.


All sites have flexible capacity so that if the Government includes other cohorts in community testing we can expand the operation and absorb this additional activity. It can also support some postcode specific testing if needed.


Total: £1,415,977


Please note the following caveats:

  • Not all costs have yet been received so the final contract value may vary.
  • We want to use unused capacity at the Weymouth local authority testing sites at the weekend but this hasn’t been costed yet. The focus has been on getting five other sites up and running
  • Some costs have been estimated and will change
  • Plans are continually developing. The more testing we want to do the more the costs will increase
  • Costs have not been sought for temporary testing in postcode specific areas e.g. setting up in local libraries or other indoor sites. Locations depend on what the epidemiology cell tells us. Across BCP Council a number of suitable sites have been identified as suitable and available. We can step these up as needed in addition to mobile van testing.


Under an agreement with the Department of Health and Social Care, there is a reimbursement scheme in place for community testing, with Councils eligible to receive up to £14 per completed test under the scheme. Allowing for some deductions for consumables, we have calculated that we should be eligible to receive income to cover the total anticipated cost of £1,415,977. However, this is dependent on high take up of community testing, so the initial contract values set out in this decision for award is intended to provide certainty to the providers, in advance of the final settlement from DHSC.


Dorset Council does not have sufficient time to comply with standard procurement procedure timescales as stipulated by the Public Contract Regulations 2015 (PCR15). The Council considers this to be a state of urgency which it has duly substantiated. Accordingly, the Council is applying PCR15 32 “Use of negotiated procedure without prior publication”, namely 32 (2c) “insofar as is strictly necessary where, for reasons of extreme urgency brought about by events unforeseeable by the contracting authority, the time limits for open or restricted procedures or competitive procedures without negotiation cannot be complied with”.


This delegated decision is being taken in accordance with Scheme of Delegation item 32 (Chief Officer decisions in cases of urgency). There is an urgency to undertake all action considered necessary by the Chief Executive, due to the continuing COVID-19 pandemic, and requirement to fit tight timescales around starting community testing (a 6-week programme until March 31, 2021). The action we are seeking under urgency powers is to take a key decision to award contracts to the two suppliers as detailed above.


Alternative options considered:

Rapid procurement - time window too short for this to be feasible.

Interests and Nature of Interests Declared:

No conflicts of interest.

Publication date: 11/02/2021

Date of decision: 10/02/2021