Two savings-generating activities have been completed and the third is underway. The two which have been completed are:
- Approaches to contractors operating high cost contracts which produced savings whilst enabling service continuity by creating contract variations.
- Retendering of mainstream school and public bus services in Sutherland ahead of the contract termination date.
The third activity is tendering the home-to-school and public bus services across the rest of Highland Council’s area to tie-in with the contracts concluding at the end of December 2016.
To create awareness of the context in which services are being tendered and to enable stakeholders (transport providers, the general public, Councillors, community councils and representative groups) to contribute their views on the current services and their future needs for bus services provision, a range of briefing and consultation events have taken place:
- 8 briefing events at locations around the Highlands for suppliers to make them aware of the financial context the next round of tendering would be conducted under. Also to explain the procurement process and to encourage competition by urging suppliers to consider applying for routes and types of service delivery they might not previously have considered.
- A round of meetings with Ward Councillors at locations throughout the Highlands to advise them of proposed public consultation plans and to receive their views/concerns about transport service issues in their areas.
- 15 public meetings at locations across the Highlands. At each there was a short presentation, a period for questions and then breaking into smaller groups to address specific questions. Meetings were attended by a varying mix of people – individual members of the public, Community Council representatives, transport providers, Ward Councillors, and community groups (for instance Access Panel representatives and Enable, an organisation which supports people with learning disabilities).
- A survey questionnaire which was available online and in various locations such as Service Points, local libraries and community centres.