Contract anger

THE LEADER of Angus Council’s administration is calling for more to be done by the local authority to support local businesses tendering for contracts.

Whilst Councillor Iain Gaul recognises there is a requirement on councils to achieve best value, he told the Dispatch and Herald “best value is not necessarily pounds and pence.”

He is backed by fellow councillors Glennis Middleton and Ian McLaren who have both hit out at the tendering process after a Forfar business missed out on a lucrative contract with the local authority (see letters page on page 21).

In it well-known Forfar businessman Ally Leuchars reveals the contract was awarded to a company based in London with a depot in Glasgow - all to save the council £284.

Councillor Gaul said: “We have to, as a council, be able to say to the citizens of Angus we have delivered the best we can for you, for whatever project, because this is the best price we can get. I believe that is positively the way to go.

“We need to be able to balance other criteria against that. This was tried before a couple of years ago but as leader it’s up to me to put forward the argument that best value is not necessarily pounds and pence.

“We have to look at things like the effect of what we are doing to the local economy and businesses because local people pay council tax and local businesses pay business rates. It helps the local economy.

“We spend a lot of money and time on reducing our carbon footprint. I sit on the carbon group and that is one of the things we are trying to get the government to accept - that carbon reduction should have a value that we can use against different forms of procurement. I will reinforce that argument to the group executive and leaders to see what we can do as I am fully supportive of local businesses where possible.”

Angus councillor Ian McLaren, a local businessman said: “I think it’s an absolute disgrace that a local company, which contributes so much to the Angus economy, fails to secure a contract with Angus Council, especially when they are such a reputable firm. We need to encourage local business, not bypass them as it’s not always the policy that the cheapest is the best.”

His sentiments were backed up by Angus Councillor Glennis Middleton who said: “I think it is imperative that, wherever we can, the council should be supporting businesses, especially local businesses with local employees.

“I have raised my concerns with the chief executive and the leader of the council. I am concerned that the tender process closed in December but the results were not made known to the parties concerned until February.

“We have asked over quite a long period of time that not just the initial cost should be taken into consideration when looking at tender documents; in this instance, I have asked for the chief executive’s and the leader of the administration’s comments.

“I think there is an issue with our carbon footprint and environmental concerns; it seems a nonsense to me that a company with a depot in Glasgow should be given a contract rather than someone who is two miles away.

“Clearly the officers have made their decision in accordance with the current regulations and we are bound by rules and regulations.

“I have asked that there should be different criteria within the financial regulations to make allowances, for example, where a local company is very close to the lowest price but the other tender comes from some distance away - that makes sense to me.”

A spokesperson for Angus Council said: “In accordance with Angus Council’s approved procurement processes, the four companies currently on Tayside Procurement Consortium office removals approved list were asked to tender for removals work at Orchardbank, Forfar.

“The deadline for tenders was December 21, 2012, and estimated date of award was January 11, 2013, however, the need for the work was reconsidered and a delay resulted. We failed to notify the contractors of this delay and apologise for this inconvenience.

“Once it was agreed to progress the move, the contract was awarded to the lowest tenderer, in compliance with the council’s financial regulations, on February 12.

“We are always happy to deal with any issues brought to our notice, but in this case, we have not received any complaints regarding this matter.”