back to article ANPR maker Neology sues Newcastle City Council after failing to win 'air quality' snoopcam project bid

Facial-recognition tech firm Neology is suing a bunch of town and city councils in the UK after it failed to win a contract to install ANPR cameras across the North East. Neology has filed a High Court claim against the councils of Newcastle, Gateshead, and North Tyneside after it lost out on a five-year maintenance agreement …

  1. Paul 195


    Central government continue to dish out lucrative contracts to their mates without any scrutiny, because the pandemic makes it more important than ever to throw money at the incompetent rather than letting local governments or hospitals scale up the things they already do rather well.,

  2. Eli...

    This sounds like a pocket lining project gone wrong...

    'The total value of the claim was also redacted. Such heavy redactions are unusual in High Court cases being heard in public.'

    And the company/individuals who'd been promised all that lovely dosh, got butt-hurt about it all and started crying.

    1. nematoad Silver badge

      Re: This sounds like a pocket lining project gone wrong...

      Yes, it looks that way. The word that jumped out at me was "entitled" .

      It sums up a lot of the thinking in boardrooms and just because it is public money does not me that it is there for the asking. It does, after all, belong to you and me and what these local authorities are doing is what they are supposed to, look after public funds. Unlike I might add our beloved leader and his minions who seem to regard the public purse as their personal piggy bank and and to use that word again "entitled" to spend it as they wish.

      Oh, and as for their security history, it's probably a good thing that they did not win the contract.

  3. Warm Braw Silver badge


    Regrettably, this is just the latest unfortunate chapter in a sorry saga.

    The Clean Air Zone was originally going to be similar to London's Congestion Charge: there'd be a charge (£3.40 for private vehicles) on entering congested areas with low air quality. Following an outcry from the motoring public, the plan to charge private vehicles was dropped, but buses will be hit by a £50 charge, while the number of lanes across the Tyne Bridge will be reduced. So, there will be a strong disincentive to use public transport, and congestion will be increased owing to the throttling of a key crossing point.

    Without wanting to comment on the merits of Neology's case, I cant help feeling we're going to see more of this type of claim. Councils have been hollowed out by cuts and additional spending on Coronavirus so their ability to scrutinise procurement and defend action taken against them is inevitably diminished.

    1. IGotOut Silver badge

      Re: Misconceived...

      If your buses are like our heap of shit things (Diamond) , the less of these things on the road the better.

      Granted most of the pollution come from them catching fire rather than the engines running on 2.5 cylinders.

      1. iGNgnorr

        Re: Misconceived...

        Hmmm. You must live somewhere not a million miles from Kidderminster! Another Diamond trick, which is best performed on a narrow blind bend on a hill, is breaking down and lubricating the road.

        1. IGotOut Silver badge

          Re: Misconceived...

          Shropshire, where if you are behind one on a hill, you have to drive in first gear to avoif stalling.

          Passengers tend to get out and walk up the hill and wait for bus to catch up.

          PS if you think we are kidding:

  4. Roopee


    I wish I could sue all the people who have chosen not to use my services! Or even just the few who have expressed an interest by phoning me and then decided not to... M'lud Potential Client A phoned me about a problem, didn't like how much I said I would charge if we went ahead, or maybe it was the timbre of my voice, and then hung up. I'm outraged and demand compensation!

    Wankers, was I think the term El Reg said they wouldn't use for firms such as Neology.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: WTF?

      Council probably got rid of a lot of middle managers which the press love to moan about.

      Procurement processes haven't been followed, procurement feedback seems to have been lacking to say the least especially if we're talking MULTIPLE councils here.

      Something has gone wrong and at this point it looks very likely to be the lack of those dreaded managers who keep people on the right side of a lawsuit..

      1. IGotOut Silver badge

        Re: WTF?

        Last I heard, legal departments finalise contracts.

        1. Pangasinan Philippines

          Legal are not technical

          Legal cannot tell the difference between one technical proposal and another.

          The suitability is decided by those who know. (the people who draw up the contract requirements).

          Legal get involved with the monetary Ts & Cs.

      2. Intractable Potsherd Silver badge

        Re: WTF?

        Whilst not having any inside information, it sounds like there was a section in the procurement process that asked for specific details of the system being touted to be presented in a particular way, and Neology wrote "See attached document" instead. Said document is the 68-page one mentioned in the article, which led to the entire application being binned. One thing I have learned is that, absent a specific statement that additional material can be used, you stick to the form. It is a pain in the arse transcribing e.g. an entire CV into a badly coded web form, but if that's the rule, you comply if you want to be considered.

      3. EnviableOne Silver badge

        Re: WTF?

        Gateshead and North Tyneside deny all knowledge

        This is probably just another hairbrained scheme dreamed up by the traffic team at newcastle council, not even the rest of the council understand what they are doing.

        CF John Dobson Sttreet Bus Lane

        1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

          Re: WTF?

          I'm not sure about Nth Tyneside, but the original plan would have included a clean air zone across the Tyne into Gateshead. I don't see how Newcastle could have gone ahead with a tender process without the co-operation of Gateshead. If they did, and according to Gateshead, that's what happened, then it could never have been implemented without Gateshead being involved.

      4. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

        Re: WTF?

        "Something has gone wrong and at this point it looks very likely to be the lack of those dreaded managers who keep people on the right side of a lawsuit.."

        You got a lot of downvotes for that, but the recent update to the long running bus lane saga in Newcastle has resulted in them losing yet another appeal. The signage was poor so the £millions they issued fines for were obtained illegally. They are about to start paying back £2m. Hilariously, they are still claiming they were in the right and the signs met the Department for Transport guidance and the return of the fines is a "gesture of goodwill". The signs may well have been correct by DoT guidance but the court and subsequent appeals have effectively said the guidance is wrong when properly interpreted by the judiciary. The person they put up for interview on the local TV news would NOT admit they got it wrong.

        Other issues with Newcastle City Council seems to indicate they are getting more stuff wrong than in the past and this may well be due to a loss of skills and oversight through cut backs.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: WTF?

      I wish I could sue all the people who have chosen not to use my services!

      Sadly, it's all too common in Public Body contracts. We've always been incredibly scrupulous about the scoring and we've still been sued over not awarding a contract to someone who seemed to think that they had the divine right to fleece us for as much money they could without having the ability or experience to actually perform the contract spec..

      Some vendors even raise lawsuits just to get to see the details of their competitors bids - not that they get it. It's also very, very rare for vendors to win those lawsuits. It's mostly a publicity stunt.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: WTF?

        "It's mostly a publicity stunt" - at the public's expense.

        Anon because I may (or may not) work in the public sector and have encountered this sort of situation once or twice.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Procurement nightmares

    Procurement in local government certainly is an absolute PITA.

    You need to jump through so many hoops to ensure that you don't get sued for choosing one bid over another, never mind picking the best product or getting the best price.You can't easily haggle, you can't ask questions of one supplier and not the other, everything must be recorded and justified. It adds a huge price to any major procurement and many low value ones as well.

    Then the suppliers are often colossal arses as well. The procurement might be for a £5M system but the sales droid filling in the paperwork usually can't be arsed and misses critical bits out, doesn't understand the questions or doesn't read the questions. So you can have a system that you really want to buy that is good value but you've had to score lowly becasue the salesman was hungover and the rules mean you can't go back and get them to correct it.

    Or the sales people really can' be arsed (sounds like this one) and rather than answer the questions they just supply reams of pdfs, often hundreds of pages long, and just say the answer is in the attached. Somewhere. Probably.

    1. Roland6 Silver badge

      Re: Procurement nightmares

      Or the sales people really can' be arsed (sounds like this one) and rather than answer the questions they just supply reams of pdfs, often hundreds of pages long, and just say the answer is in the attached. Somewhere. Probably.

      From the article I suspect this is what happened here, namely the Neology sales team's answer didn't completely answer the ITT question, whereas the Siemen's one did. The ITT would have been initially assessed on the (typically number of letters/words limited) responses rather than on the supplementary information.

      1. hoola Bronze badge

        Re: Procurement nightmares

        And this is why these frameworks are so popular in Public Sector. If the framework is tendered or the adopted framework has categories with a number of approved suppliers in each ranked in order, as long as you place the order with the top ranked supplier you can "direct award" without the need to tender. There are some value limits but these appear to vary.

        Then you have the situation where tenders are crafted in such a way that the desired supplier will win if all goes well. The responses that are then scrutinised in ever more detail to try and get the supplier/vendor people want, even if it is vastly more expensive and there are other bids that will also do the job.

        Frankly the effort and costs that are put in by both sides in these situations are often in excess of any profits the supplier probably ever makes.

    2. iron Silver badge

      Re: Procurement nightmares

      Not to mention the problem of requiring 3 tenders when often there aren't 3 companies capable or interested in doing the job.

      1. GlenP Silver badge

        Re: Procurement nightmares

        On one occasion back when I was a Civil Servant I was in the transport manager's office. He had a van stuck on the hard shoulder, no breakdown cover of course, and the procurement department wanted three tenders for a recovery service to attend!

        We avoided the worst of it in the IT Department by specifying everything had to be PDP-11 compatible, we'd bought two VAX boxes on the grounds they were compatible with the PDP -11/45 that we didn't actually use!

      2. JimC

        Re: Procurement nightmares

        Or worse still when there's only one company you trust to do the job, but they fail to win the tender, and the winning company goes on to comprehensively **** up the project just as you knew they would. I recall at least one case where we started unofficially working on how to fix what we were sure was going to be a nightmarish delivery before it was even delivered to us...

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Procurement nightmares

      Or the sales people really can' be arsed

      When we were going to replace our SAN a big US two-letter company that also made printers were well in the running because we'd used their kit before. However, when it actually came to the pre-sales meeting, the technical rep spent more time on his mobile talking to other people than actually talking to us or answering our questions.

      We didn't buy from that company. And we put down on paper something like "technical specialist unable to answer our questions" as part of the reason why we didn't. They phoned us up, threatening to sue so we told them exactly why. They stopped bothering us after that.

  6. Spanners Silver badge

    How about...

    They need to put a section in the eligibility criteria saying that to do business with the council, they cannot have taken legal action against it in the last X years.

    The reason that you need a value for X, rather than " for ever", is that companies, like people, can change. Many may have all been changing the wrong way for the last few decades but they need to see the benefits of improving instead.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: How about...

      Sometimes, unfortunately, there are good reasons to take legal action against a council.

  7. not.known@this.address Silver badge

    Amended headline

    "ANPR maker Neology sues Newcastle residents and local businesses after failing to win 'air quality' snoopcam project bid "

    FTFY. Where do these idiots think the Council gets "its" money from, and why do they think they can sue the taxpayers because they lost out?

  8. Duffaboy

    It's my Football

    And I'm taking it so you can't play

  9. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

    Translation: Don't invite us to tender.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Or run any tender competently?

  10. Def Silver badge

    That's a great idea.

    I think I will just sue everyone who has failed to buy a licence for any of my software products. That has to be a lot easier than actually trying to sell the damn things.

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Read the &1o0dy tender!

    Having had experience on both the supply and the buy side of the fence, one of the key issues is that respondents don't read the instructions carefully or simply don't abide by them. I have no sympathy for a company that does not follow them.

    It is possible to clarify (and even to an extent change) instructions during the process if there is a good argument for it.

    Based on that I have argued for - and achieved - tender submission extensions, changed methodology for evaluating pricing and changed contractual terms.

    When, however, the tender is to be submitted, it must be as outlined. Here it seems Neology submitted a large attachment without actually answering the question in the required format.

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    EU Procurement Legislation

    Public body procurement within the EU is very regulated in an attempt to ensure all businesses across the EU are given the opportunity to be considered for work above certain financial limits. Now we’re out of the EU, it will fall back on UK rules that were set up to comply - I’m not sure how any amendments are going as I’m no longer involved.

    25 years ago the UK offshore oil and gas sector recognised the potential for operators to be classed as “public bodies” through the licensing necessary to develop and operate fields. It was a particular concern because the financial limits were low by the standards of expenditure and, if there was a decision that the rules really did apply, it could mean almost any offshore work contract could take >3 months to place. The major players set up an organisation to pre-qualify suppliers and contractors to ensure contracts could be placed speedily and legally. Alongside this, standard contracts were developed for a wide range of services. It’s evolved over the years; the supplier database is still in use and has extended its scope across Europe, though the take-up of the standard contracts was limited.

    The supplier database concept has been extended to other sectors, but needs time and effort from purchasers and suppliers to make it work - shortcuts rarely work. Setting aside the legislative drive, the process can save a lot of time and money spent on contracts.

  13. Steve Davies 3 Silver badge

    Laws of unintended consequences

    No Local Authourity will invite Neology to tender for contracts for the next 10 years.

    I wonder if they ever thought that filing suit might kneecap themselves (or be a footgun moment extraordinaire)

    1. 0laf Silver badge

      Re: Laws of unintended consequences

      If the market is small enough it'll have no effect on their invites to tender.

      1. EnviableOne Silver badge

        Re: Laws of unintended consequences

        As with all public sector contracts, there are limited companies that "qualify" to tender on the frameworks

        Unfortunatley it seems Neology are able to use the "Where else you gonna go" defence

  14. FatGerman

    Wait so...

    You can sue people for NOT buying your stuff?

    Where do I file a suit against 7 billion people who don't want to buy one of my photos?

    Fucking hell, the sooner we find all the lawyers in the world and drown them in a pool of shit the better.

    1. Winkypop Silver badge

      Re: Wait so...

      Ya gunna need a bigger pool of shit...

    2. TireIron

      Re: Wait so...

      Whilst understanding your sentiment, would put a lot of techy's out of a job :-)

  15. TireIron

    Shameful company but hang on what if...

    ...this could be expended across the board?

    So every job or contract you didn't get, you could sue because you think you were the better candidate? Isn't the principle the same?

    I sense this is only a matter of time...

    1. not.known@this.address Silver badge

      Re: Shameful company but hang on what if...

      Isn't this why many companies now refuse to write proper References, only stating "this person worked for us between these dates" and possibly giving a location they worked at?

  16. WhyMe!

    There are certainly flaws

    Very interesting..... would be interesting to see how this progresses. Does the court papers give any hint as to who was the cheaper proposal since quite a few comments revolve around the cost of the tech? There is obviously quite a few comments here about this company, Neology, suing simply for the money but do we know if they had the cheaper price?

    BTW - has anyone heard about how the London Congestion Charging ANPR cameras are unable to read the latest "2020" style new number plates.... OOPS! It seems this tech has some wider flaws - not sure if they are involved here too...... perhaps a new article here for you Gareth after your recent run of articles about this type of tech....whilst Covid levels are down, surely with the Mayor making so much of transport / emissions and increasing the congestion charge fees recently, it would seem unfair if those with the means to invest in new vehicles at this time would be able to avoid paying their daily congestion tax!

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