Council reinterviews four contractors because of fears over low bids, but Amec still the favourite for £90m Commonwealth Games deal.
Manchester City Council has reinterviewed four contractors for the £90m Commonwealth Games stadium after having had second thoughts about the recommended bidder, Amec.

Amec, Laing, Bovis and Taylor Woodrow were reinterviewed last week, three weeks after Amec had been selected by council experts. Amec had been due to be ratified as the winner in the middle of this month.

The council's expert team is still standing by its choice, but QS Bucknall Austin has been called in to reassess bids for council chief executive Howard Bernstein. Mowlem has been omitted from a list of five.

All the bidders declined to comment, but one industry source said: "The whole thing is a shambles. Bidders made their original submissions in early March and the evaluation is still going on. The council doesn't seem to know what it is doing." There are fears that the delayed selection process will slow down a project on an already tight deadline for 2002.

Industry sources said the aim of the two-stage tender process was for the preferred contractor to spend eight to nine months developing the project before starting on site. This development period will now extend into early 2000, by which time work should have started to ensure completion before the games. The indecision means the winner will have less time to work with subcontractors.

The thing is a shambles. The council doesn’t seem to know what it is doing

Industry source

Other industry sources said the review was being carried out because the council has reservations about the original scoring when Amec was recommended.

The firm made the lowest bid and was also judged to have the best technical expertise and capacity to build the stadium. However, sources said it was unusual for a firm to win in all categories, and the review would check the viability of all the bids.

The council wants to avoid a repeat of the Cardiff Millennium Stadium disaster and is keen to ensure that none of the firms has bid too low, as Laing did at Cardiff. It is understood that, during the re-evaluation interviews, all the firms were asked whether they stood by the price they had originally given.

A source at the council said Amec was still expected to be chosen for the project on the basis of the original recommendation. A final decision will be made by the council on 8 June.