Integration – Carmarthenshire
Integration – Carmarthenshire
Carmarthenshire County Council is currently investing over £400 million in projects to improve living conditions and educational environments for its residents. It aims to deliver the home standard in its 9,000 council homes by 2014, and has embarked on a modernising education programme covering its 115 primary and 14 secondary schools.
These ambitious plans have been significantly facilitated by the framework agreement that embraces the council, several local contractors and other stakeholders and partner organisations. By enabling knowledge and learning to be shared across all parties involved in project delivery, the framework has embedded a strong ethos of collaborative working in public sector construction.
The framework has also facilitated many innovative programmes designed to benefit the local community. With its strong emphasis on collaboration and sharing, the judges felt the framework is an example to the industry in Wales and the UK.
Carmarthenshire’s Property Services division introduced its Framework Contractors agreement in 2002 to encourage a more holistic approach to construction procurement and project delivery. The team had to overcome significant hurdles to establish framework relationships with many local suppliers. But over the last four years, the framework has gained real momentum.
Managed by Carmarthenshire County Council, the framework is based upon the Dwr Cymru/Welsh Water AMP 3 partnering model. It provides a central ‘hub’ which feeds in to several programmes, and involves almost 20 contractors as well as numerous other organisations within the supply trade. It also embraces key stakeholders, such as Carmarthenshire Construction Training Association Limited (CCTAL), Coleg Sir Gar (a local college of further and higher education), and Communities First.
Now much more than a project facilitator, the framework is also a source of knowledge and expertise for third-party organisations such as Dyfed Powys Police, Trinity University College, Mid and West Wales Fire Brigade, and the Welsh Ambulance Service.
A good example of how the framework facilitates collaboration and innovation is the Next Steps programme. A building contractor, CCTAL, Coleg Sir Gar and various council departments worked together to create a scheme giving 10 young unemployed people the chance to win a full-time apprenticeship. The partnership won Project Team of the Year at the authority’s annual awards.
Health and safety provides an excellent example of how learning is shared. The council’s H&S advisor carries out audits of live projects and ensures that practice aligns with policies within each organisation. Best practice advice is then shared with the appropriate contractors, allowing them to amend policies as necessary and develop more robust H&S management arrangements.
The framework has facilitated £160 million worth of construction investment in Carmarthenshire, including renovation of housing stock and the building or refurbishment of schools, leisure centres and theatres. The collaborative way of working has enabled the sharing of practices and instilled a better understanding of the client and contractor role. This in turn has led to more efficient delivery. Projects have been delivered on time, within budget, and with no disputes.
It has boosted the local construction industry by educating first tier suppliers in the Construction Excellence ethos, opening up access to second tier suppliers and SMEs, and providing business planning, IT and H&S training for SMEs. Some small local contractors have blossomed into medium enterprises. The framework has enabled excellent structured apprenticeship schemes and education of the supply chain.
There have also been significant benefits for the wider community through various training projects. For example, a partnership called Building Your Own Future in Sir Gar has given 120 people living in the most deprived parts of the county the opportunity to learn basic construction skills. School leavers, unemployed young people and higher-level learners have all been targeted by framework initiatives.
Perhaps most significantly, the council believes the framework has changed client culture in Carmarthenshire. Organisations involved in a framework partnership have a greater sense of ‘team ownership’. They are willing to accept guidance and advice from other parties, and are more likely to appreciate the impact of a project on the wider community.
Phil Lumley, Head of Property Services, Carmarthenshire County Council
“In Carmarthenshire, collaboration is not just a word – it is a way of life. Over the last four years, we have built up strong long-term relationships with many local contractors, and in doing so have created a framework which has proved beneficial in more ways than one. The Framework now provides a shared learning experience for use not only within the council, but also by other local service organisations such as the police force, fire and ambulance services. It is the focal point for many elements which make up a unique collaborative package – one of its main advantages being its ability to up skill existing workforces and nurture new talent.”