The transformational A303 Stonehenge (Amesbury to Berwick Down) scheme was last month given the green light by the Secretary of State for Transport, and as well as the wider economic benefits, the project could be just the job in terms of providing opportunities for small and medium-sized enterprises locally, regionally and further afield.
According to an independent economic assessment commissioned by local authorities and the Heart of the South West Local Enterprise Partnership, and validated by the Department for Transport, improving the A303 corridor will help to create 21,000 jobs and deliver a £39 billion boost in the long term.
And Highways England is today (9 December) outlining details of how small and medium-sized businesses can get involved in the A303 Stonehenge scheme at Business West’s virtual Swindon & Wiltshire Business and Economy Meeting.
David Bullock, Highways England Project Manager for the A303 Stonehenge scheme, said:
The scheme has numerous benefits, not only in improving journey reliability and enhancing the World Heritage Site landscape, but also in unlocking economic growth in the South West.
The scheme is not just limited to larger, national and international companies, and we’re keen for local and regional businesses to get the chance to work with the project.
With our archaeology specialists and preliminary works contractors expected to start on site in late spring next year, there’s going to be some opportunities with those companies within the next six months or so. But there will be greater potential when our main contractor is appointed later in 2021, and we’d urge businesses to get in touch now, so we can start to help them prepare.
In the meantime, Highways England is working closely with the Swindon and Wiltshire Local Enterprise Partnership, Business West and the Federation of Small Businesses, and has partnered nationally with the Supply Chain Sustainability School to provide free online training.
This helps smaller companies to upskill and place them in a better position to tender for work on larger infrastructure projects, such as the A303 Stonehenge upgrade.
Through its procurement process, the company, responsible for England’s major A roads and motorways, appoints main contractors who in turn require their own supply chain, which provides opportunities for sub-contractors and sub-consultants to bid for work and become part of the extended supply chain.
The A303 Stonehenge project team has recently awarded contracts to Osborne Ltd for the preliminary works and Wessex Archaeology for the archaeological excavation work, and in the next six months, the types of services and people required will include plant, fencing, track matting, catering, cleaning, accommodation and hospitality.
Osborne project director Chris Hudson said:
Osborne has significant experience working collaboratively with Highways England and local stakeholders on a wide variety of challenging projects. Knowing the benefits such projects can bring, we engage with local communities, keeping them informed as well as supporting local businesses and initiatives where possible.
Highways England will also be hosting a Meet The Buyer event early in the new year, and this will help to outline the training available via the Supply Chain Sustainability School, including topics such as Business Ethics, Waste Resource, Sustainable Procurement and Equality Diversion Inclusion.
In the meantime, any companies interested in working on the A303 Stonehenge project are asked to register their details. Information will then be passed to the relevant contractors.
Paddy Bradley, Swindon and Wiltshire LEP Chief Executive, said:
These businesses are at the core of our economy and their engagement with the supply chain activity associated with this major infrastructure project is exactly what they need.
We want small businesses in our area to gain these contracts as strong and resilient enterprises create employment and security for families in our area.
Ruth Lambert, Development Manager for the Federation of Small Businesses in Wiltshire, said
This initiative to raise awareness of opportunities from the A303 scheme is a great idea and we will certainly be doing our bit to spread the word.
We’d encourage small business owners across the county to think about how they might be able to get involved and benefit from the economic opportunities the project offers for our area.
Members of the public should contact the Highways England customer contact centre on 0300 123 5000.
Journalists should contact the Highways England press office on 0844 693 1448 and use the menu to speak to the most appropriate press officer.