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A slippery situation for TS over salt

REGULAR readers will recall last week's lead story, an update on the case against Transport Scotland (TS) being brought by Southampton-based Nationwide Gritting Services (NGS).

It concerns the salt TS bought in the winters of 2010 and 2011 to make available to the NHS, local councils and other Scottish agencies to put a floor on top of the horrific ice rink that covered the country for endless weeks on both occasions.

NGS objected to TS's failure to follow the procurement rules and advertise the salt requirement with the European Union. Claiming to be the only gritting company of scale in the UK not to get a piece of the action, it originally sought damages of £980,000.

Last week's story reported that NGS was seeking court permission to raise the claim to over £3.5 million on the grounds that it has discovered since bringing the original action that TS bought far more salt than it thought. This is mainly because much additional salt was bought by trunk road operator BEAR Scotland, which as a private company is not subject to the same procurement rules unless it can be shown it was acting on behalf of TS.

TS argued in court last Wednesday that too much time had passed since the revelations about BEAR for NGS to be allowed to add them to the claim, but Lord Woolman was having none of it. When the full case finally comes to court in May, TS is now facing a claim of £3.85m. There must be a few senior folks getting hot under the collar at TS towers …

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