Community reaps the benefit of sweeteners which come with Council contract awards
SNP councillors Ian McLaren and Iain Dickson.
By Bill Heaney
West Dunbartonshire Council appear to have sorted out the procurement problems which have caused them so much hassle and heartache in recent times.
Council projects have delivered a range of community benefits including new Jobs, training opportunities and funding for local groups over the last year.
Procurement was the focus for investigation into improper practices by senior council managers, most of whom have now left the council’s employment.
Socialising with contractors and suppliers, including playing golf and eating out at posh hotels, came into the unwanted spotlight and Community Party councillor Jim Bollan was suspended by the Standards Commission for raising the subject too often.
The SNP administration were forced to admit that there were no rules and regulations governing procurement in place for as long period of time.
The benefits provided by suppliers are a key element of tendering for Council contracts and were highlighted as part of the Annual Procurement Report for 2019/20 presented to West Dunbartonshire’s Corporate Services Committee on Wednesday.
Among the projects which have provided benefits for the community is the new Clydebank Care Home, Queens Quay House, as well as the new Council housing developments in Haldane, Bellsmyre and Clydebank.
As part of the tendering process for the new developments, building contractor CCG Scotland Ltd offered employment, training, work experience, curriculum support and community enhancements working in partnership with procurement and the Council’s Procurement and Working4U teams.
The new employment opportunities included five construction apprenticeships for West Dunbartonshire young people, eight new posts created specifically for unemployed residents and other jobs as tradesmen and labourers.
In addition, CCG made contributions to community projects and groups, including funding for a new resident garden at the care home, equipment for a football and a gymnastics club, fundraising for West Dunbartonshire Foodshare and contributing to the cost of drainage works at the Mill Cabin in Haldane.
As part of its work providing servicing and maintenance to the Council, Skanka Facilities Services donated new toys, Christmas gift sets and groceries to West Dunbartonshire Community Foodshare and Aspire Industrial Services Ltd donated 40 face visors to the Council.
Councillor Ian Dickson, Convener of Corporate Services said: “Each of these projects has benefited our residents by providing new modern, purpose built facilities, services, or energy efficient homes.
“Our Procurement team works really hard to ensure every Council contract represents best value for our residents and it’s great to hear that over and above this, they are also securing a range of community benefits as a key element of these contracts.
“These benefits will have made a huge difference in our communities and, in the case of the jobs and apprenticeships, will be life-changing.”
In addition to the community benefits, the Procurement team has made a commitment to ensuring a proportion of Council contracts are awarded to local firms, small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs), to further support employment and the area’s economy. In the last year the Council’s spend with these SMEs increased to £30,571.
Councillor Iain McLaren, Vice Convener of Corporate Services, added: “The procurement report highlights the continuing progress made in this area and it’s great to see the increase in value of our spend with local companies SMEs and of course the many other benefits Council contracts are delivering for our communities.”
However, one council taxpayer said: “I think the public would be happier if the contractors tendering for work did their business on a level playing field and the council went back to the previous way of awarding contracts was to give the work to the company submitting the lowest tender for the work.
“Surely we are not doing business on the basis that it is the people who come up with the best additional sweeteners who get the work?”
West Dunbartonshire Council never answers questions from The Dumbarton Democrat because we once asked them to turn the sound up in order that we could hear what was going on in the council chambers and then told a press officer to “bugger off” when she and other officials tried to throw us out for that.