The Committee considered the presentation by Amy Myers of Welland Procurement which focused on Localism in Procurement, the premise for which was: spending local authority money within its own economy; benefiting local businesses; protecting local jobs; and growing the local economy. The presentation set out the current position and what more the Council could do, providing alternative options for consideration. The presentation also provided Members with a note of the risks associated with local procurement.
In considering the presentation, Members raised a number of general questions. Specifically as to how local procurement was monitored and the Council’s target of reducing their carbon footprint. Members queried whether it was possible to accept a local tender that, whilst not necessarily the lowest in cost, did offer the lowest carbon footprint than one out of the district. Ms Myers advised that dependent on the size of the tender, there were some EU rules which prevented setting boundaries to only use local companies. That said, weighting different elements was appropriate below OJEU thresholds.
Members expressed some concern that tenders were only advertised by electronic methods, citing that a great deal of small and medium enterprises (SMEs) were disadvantaged. Ms Myers stated that if a tender was below £10k then a written format would be used.
In relation to what safeguards could be put in place to ensure that lower value contracts were not awarded to family or friends of Council employees, Ms Myers advised that this would be a matter for Audit to consider e.g. how monies were being spent, to whom and how frequently. It was also noted that any issues or concerns could be reported through the Council’s Whistleblowing Protocol. The Director – Growth & Regeneration advised that Officers were required to adhere to a Code of Conduct and to make a declaration of any friendships or associations with contractors. Members agreed that it would be beneficial to improve the knowledge of available contractors and the services and goods they were able to provide.
A Member queried whether it was possible to sub-divide a contract in lots, noting that procurement with other local authorities may provide opportunities for economy of scale. Ms Myers acknowledged that economies of scale would be more likely with large tenders but the presentation was tailored to local SMEs.
In relation to what Members considered to be local, it was suggested that the contractor should be within the district boundaries. The Director advised that the Council’s current definition of local was a business with a NG or LN postcode.
In noting the above, it was stated that SMEs often struggled due to cash flow issues and that a big contractor buying locally would be unlikely to pay for goods or services promptly. Ms Myers stated that this would need to be discussed with the Council’s Legal Team with a view to requiring the business awarded the main contract paying by the terms set out by the Council. It was noted, however, that this would not be inserted as a standard clause in any contract awarded.
The Director advised that the Council would benefit from a promotion campaign, advising businesses and suppliers as to how they could be listed on the Council’s Contract Register. Further work would be done with local SME’s to promote where to view and tender for opportunities.
AGREED that the presentation be noted.