Vinci has alleged that Luton council breached tender rules in the latest chapter of the row over the town’s £52m guided busway scheme

Vinci, which missed out on the contract to Bam Nuttall, has been fighting to recover £3.6m in lost earnings and bid costs. Now, in documents lodged at the Technology and Construction Court, the French-owned contractor has accused Luton council of failing to abide by the tender rules.

The firm said that when Luton advertised the contract it was on the basis that the most “economically advantageous tender” would win the work. But instead Bam Nuttall was awarded the job despite Vinci’s tender coming in £11m lower.

Vinci believes it lost out on the job after presenting a different technology to Bam’s – Vinci proposed a “slip paving” form of construction, whereas Bam favoured a pre-cast method. But the firm says there was “no indication” at any time during the tender process that Luton council preferred the latter.

In its claim, Vinci said the council took “no or little account of the fact that the slip paving method of construction proposed by Vinci resulted in a tender price that was less than the target price and/or was significantly less than the tender price submitted by Bam Nuttall for a pre-cast method of construction”.

The slip paving method resulted in a tender price that was less than the target price


Although Bam has not been awarded the contract formally it has started preliminary works on the site, with detailed design on the busway to start in April. The route, in which buses will be automatically steered between the sides of a concrete track by buffers, will run between Luton airport, the town centre, Dunstable and Houghton Regis.

Main works will start in December 2010 and the scheme is scheduled to be open to the public in 2012.

Luton council will now settle out of court or file a defence.