Local businesses lose out on council works

AN INQUIRY is being launched after it emerged that local companies got less than one-fifth of council contracts.

Just 18 percent of the 220 deals – worth a total of £52 million – offered by the Glenrothes-based local authority in the 2011-12 tax year went to firms in the Kingdom.

Even more alarmingly, the figure has fallen almost a quarter on the previous 12 months period, when 41 per cent of contracts were given to regional businesses.

The probe by council offers will try to find out if local firms are actually applying for work and, if they are, why they are failing to get it.

The council has to award contracts to companies which provide the best value for money - not necessarily the cheapest - and invites tenders through a national website, of which it is the biggest user.

It also offers coaching for companies on how to submit competitive tenders.

Council leader, Alex Rowley, said: “There has been a significant dip in the number of Fife companies getting work.

“Fife Council is issuing contracts worth many millions of pounds each year and I want to make sure that we are doing everything possibel to maximise the work coming to Fife companies.

“I am now initiating a review of contracts to find out what’s happenign and why.”

One Glenrothes businessman, who asked not to be named, believes the current system is flawed.

He said: “We were on the contract list for over 25 years and in 2010 the council decided to open up their contracts using the public services internet system

“We were not advised that this was the new system and when our contract came up for renewed application we were unaware and missed out for three years.

“The three successful tenders came from Dunfermline, Edinburgh and Doncaster.

“Given the knowledge that we have amassed over the years it was very disappointing not to mention costly in terms of lost work.

“The contract evaluation system is very difficult to understand and places most emphasis on pounds not best value

“There are many many good trades people out there who have worked for the council over the years who are still not computer/website friendly and do not have the time to check these over on a regular, or daily basis.”