Aberdeenshire Council’s Leader has reaffirmed his commitment to encouraging local companies to tender for local authority contracts, in a move backed by Opposition Leader Cllr Hamish Vernal.
The council procures around £220 million of goods and services every year, with around half of that sum awarded to local companies.
Councils have to follow stringent procurement regulations that require large contracts be advertised and competed for across Europe.
The council’s procurement team have been working with local companies to help them better understand the procurement process and highlight upcoming opportunities. This allows them to be better positioned to compete for business whilst also opening up supply chain opportunities with prime contractors.
Aberdeenshire Council has applied rigorous standards to all elements of how it buys goods and services. Food products, fresh meat in particular, are carefully monitored so that every part of their journey can be traced, from farm through to the plate.
This has ensured that Aberdeenshire Council was not caught up in the recent horsemeat scandal and was able to defend its decision to buy chicken from Thailand where the council was able to evidence the good welfare of the birds and the quality of the meat being served in school meals.
The same rigour is applied to all companies which must be able to demonstrate the quality of their produce, whilst also offering a competitive price.
Cllr Jim Gifford explained: “Aberdeenshire Council, like all public sector companies, has to strike a balance between buying the best quality at a reasonable price.
“People think that we’re about driving the cost as low as we can get it, and therefore compromising on quality. That’s absolutely not the case. We won’t buy poor quality food to be served in our schools and care homes. We are committed to buying the best quality food we can get, within the budgets we have.”
Cllr Hamish Vernal has added his support to the approach being taken by the council to encourage local companies to tender for contracts. He said: “Public sector procurement is complex and heavily regulated by legislation. I’m keen that the council continues to support local companies in better understanding the process and thinking about how they can be in the best position to compete for work.
“Smaller companies can benefit just as much as large multi-nationals by forming consortiums or working with larger companies. The fact that they are local and can deliver fresh produce to us quickly gives them a real competitive edge.”
The council has delivered a supplier development programme and local companies wishing to know more about how to be successful when tendering for council contracts should contact the Commercial & Procurement Team direct at Aberdeenshire Council