Ruling frees councils' hands for tendering

Local authorities are now free to judge tenders for council contracts on their merits, rather than being tied to one supplier.

The change comes as a result of a recent High Court ruling, in which London Transport took Hillingdon Council to judicial review, claiming its existing bus shelters must stay in place forever under the London Passenger Transport Act 1934.

However, the court upheld Hillingdon Council's decision to force London Transport to rip down the shelters for new ones provided by rival bidders, JC Decaux UK, which the court decided would be largely excluded from the tender process if London Transport's interpretation was upheld. The court also ruled that the council was entitled to take account of other benefits offered as part of the tender process.

Linklaters partner Katie Bradford, who acted for Decaux UK, welcomes the ruling. “The local authority tender process must be competitive if councils are to get the very best deal possible on behalf of their residents,” she says.