SALT firm Nationwide Gritting Services (NGS) today won the right to quadruple its claim against Scottish Government agency Transport Scotland for not being given the chance to supply de-icing road salt over two of the country’s harsh winters.
Lord Woolman agreed at the Court of Session in Edinburgh to permit NGS to increase its damages claim from £980,000 to £3.85 million.
This was because the Southampton-based firm said it had become aware Transport Scotland had ordered far more salt over the 2009-10 and 2010-11 winters than it had been told.
The agency spent £8.8m on salt in 2010-11 alone.
NGS claims the agency failed to follow European rules over such orders by not publicly advertising the contract.
Transport Scotland instead ordered salt direct from other suppliers, so NGS was not given the chance to bid. The firm claims it would have offered a lower price.
NGS general manager Rakesh Ram said today: “The Scottish ministers not only breached the procurement rules involving millions of pounds but have continually tried to use technicality and lack of transparency as a mechanism to avoid accountability of their actions.
“NGS continues to await full and frank disclosure from the Scottish Government, which has thus far disregarded the principles of effectiveness and transparency.”
Transport Scotland claims it was permitted to buy salt without seeking bids because of “exceptional circumstances” – unusually cold weather and a “critical” shortage of salt.
Lord Woolman said the case focused on whether the agency was entitled to have taken that action.
A court hearing is scheduled for May.