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New streetlight tender won't repeat past probity problems: Unley CEO

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The City of Unley is promising no repeat of last year’s controversial streetlight replacement tender – abandoned over perceived conflicts of interest – as it joins a new bid to modernise public lighting in eastern Adelaide.

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The City of Unley and the City of Campbelltown were among seven councils that jointly launched a tender to replace thousands of streetlights with LEDs across eastern Adelaide – a project believed to be worth about $50 million to the winning contractor.

The councils, linked together as the Eastern Region Alliance (ERA), paused the tender after an InDaily article revealed major international lighting company Citelum had pulled out of the process over concerns about the role of an associate of a competing company in helping design the tender.

Concerns about that tender centred on the role of engineer Scott Williams, who helped develop its technical specifications, and was project director for the streetlight replacement program.

He is also a director of Complete Urban and lighting company ENE.HUB, the largest shareholder of ENE.HUB SA which made a bid for the tender. All three entities operate out of the same Sydney address.

Williams had, earlier, been involved in an audit of the City of Unley’s public lighting but the council says it no longer has any commercial relationship with him.

The ERA tender was abandoned after an independent probity advisor found the councils’ conduct during the 2016 tender had been “not satisfactory”.

Unley and Campbelltown have now launched a tender seeking “expert street lighting technical advice” – the first in a two-stage process to find “a street lighting partner for each (council)”.

City of Unley CEO Peter Tsokas said the new lighting tenders would be conducted under high standards of probity.

He said whomever is selected to provide technical advice on the project “will have no direct involvement in (… the) tender”.

A probity officer – the same probity officer who conducted the ERA tender review – has been commissioned to ensure the integrity of the new tenders.

“There will be a clear separation between responsibilities for provision of technical advice and selection of tenderers,” said Tsokas.

“Unley’s procurement process is to be followed, with the procurement officer answering questions.”

The probity officer’s review of last year’s tender also found documents were provided to some parties and not others during the process, and that “some documents known to Williams were not provided to respondents [tendering companies] initially”.

Tsokas said documentation provided to potential contractors in this year’s tender processes would include all information about lighting audits already conducted by the councils involved.

And “a selection panel including the probity officer and technical expert will manage the tender evaluation”.

“A steering group consisting of the CEOs and probity officer will meet regularly to monitor progress of the project.”

Tsokas said the councils would save ratepayer cash by conducting the tender jointly.

“Both councils are interested in not only considering a modernisation of the current lighting solution across their cities, with the subsequent significant environmental and financial benefits, but also the concept of a smart city being explored, and in particular making use of technology available in the lighting columns, or other sources,” he said.

“A key part of the contract requirements is to ensure that the public lighting and associated infrastructure is able to adapt and adjust to changing technology and service requirements/ opportunities over the term of the contract.”

The majority of streetlights in the City of Unley are owned by SA Power Networks. The project will help confirm what powers the councils have regarding SAPN-owned assets.

InDaily contacted Campbelltown CEO Paul Di Iulio for comment.

 

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