Support for Forfar businessman

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FORFAR business-man Ally Leuchars has been over-whelmed by the support he has received from the local business community following our front page article last week regarding a council contract.

The article sparked public outcry from local councillors who called for the local authority to do more to support local businesses tendering for contracts.

They were led by the leader of the administration, councillor Iain Gaul, who was backed up by fellow councillors Glennis Middleton and Ian McLaren.

In a letter to the “Dispatch and Herald”, Mr Leuchars, whose Forfar Removals is based at Carseview Road, in Forfar, highlighted how he had lost out on a contract by some £284; the successful bidder was a London based company with a depot in Glasgow.

Commenting after the article appeared Ally said: “I had about a dozen ‘phone calls about it and people came in to the shop to thank me for raising the issue.

“I have had emails and calls, not just from people I know.

“The response I have had from fellow local business owners and the public has been quite unbelievable and is much appreciated. Perhaps this is the time for a local councillor to champion the cause of local businesses.”

Ally took issue with the response given by Angus Council and asked if the four companies in the approved Tayside Procurement Consortium Office Removals List were the four tenders that were considered.

With regard to the council’s comment that the “tender was awarded in compliance with their financial regulations - and therefore awarded to the lowest price”, he points out that the tender document, item no 7 clearly states “The contract will be awarded on the basis of lowest price.

“Angus Council is not bound to accept the lowest or any quotation and shall not be bound to accept the appointed contractor as a sole supplier. Successful and unsuccessful bidders should be notified in writing within around 10 working days of the quotation return date stated below - Friday, December 21, 2012”.

And he asks: “So did Angus Council have to award the contract to the lowest bidder?”

Answering the council’s statement that they had not received any complaints regarding the matter, he pointed out that on the day he was informed, by email, that he was unsuccessful with the tender (at 9.30 a.m. on February 13, 2013), he phoned the chief executive at Angus Council and spoke to his secretary. This call was put through to Procurement which went to an answering machine and he left his contact numbers.

He explained: “About 20 minutes later when no-one had returned my call I then called Property Services to voice my concern and, as we know, his response was to “sharpen my pencil”.

Ally then contacted local councillor Ian McLaren about the matter and, three hours later, a senior figure of Procurement phoned him back but would not discuss the matter over the phone.

He was told his enquiry had to be in writing.

Ally continued: “The letter which appeared in the Dispatch last week was a letter of concern and complaint to Angus Council. Perhaps you could inform me of the proper channels for complaints.”

When asked to comment on the matter a spokesperson for Angus Council said: “As Mr Leuchars confirms, he was asked during a ‘phone call to put his complaint into writing to us, and it was established that he had contact details to do this. We have not received the requested written complaint from him.”

She also referred to details on the home page of Angus Council’s website which clearly lists the complaints procedure.