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

Two other councils named in suit say: Not us, guv

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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 for an "air quality monitoring" suite in each of the areas.

"The purpose of the procurement was to appoint a contractor to provide the defendants with ANPR cameras and the associated local systems, in respect of a Clean Air Zone," said Neology's particulars of claim.

Redacted court documents obtained by The Register revealed that Neology filed suit on 26 June after its bid lost to Siemens Mobility Ltd earlier that month.

Neology was the company that installed ANPR in Sheffield a few years ago. Although it ceased to be involved with that system later on, its control dashboard was left unsecured until The Register was tipped off to its online whereabouts – and the exposure of nearly nine million road journey logs.

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The ANPR maker is claiming that Newcastle City Council failed to provide detailed enough reasons for scoring Neology below Siemens. It also claims that the council improperly scored its bid lower than it should have when assessing which software suites it would use.

Referring to another section of Newcastle's feedback, Neology said in its filings: "Importantly, the feedback for this question does not state that Neology's tender had failed to comply with the requirements of the procurement."

In its latest defence document, filed this week, Newcastle City Council said "in the context of the Mini-Competition the reasons provided to Neology complied with the [Public Contracts Regulations] and were lawful".

While the council did admit that Neology submitted a 68-page "commissioning manual" to meet a specific tender requirement, the council denied that the ANPR firm was "entitled" to have that "taken into account" for the scoring of its bid.

Referring to the software-specific parts of Neology's bid, the council also denied...

... that these brief details [submitted by the ANPR firm] constituted a satisfactory explanation of how the software required for delivery of the services would be developed and integrated to ensure successful performance. It is averred that the details provided in respect of these matters in the tender response, which in the context of [tender document question 1] and the requirements of the procurement were of significant importance, were brief and limited.

Parts of the particulars of claim explaining exactly which software suites Neology intended using and whether these were "off-the-shelf" products had been redacted. The total value of the claim was also redacted. Such heavy redactions are unusual in High Court cases being heard in public.

North Tyneside Council and Gateshead Metropolitan Borough Council both filed defences stating that they neither ran the procurement competition nor are party to the ANPR contract. Both councils said that Newcastle City Council "was not conducting the Mini-Competition [procurement exercise] for, or on behalf of" either local government body.

The case continues. ®

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