11:50pm Wednesday 25th April 2012
By Tom Edwards
CALLS have been made for “more effort” to be put into making sure small companies in Worcestershire bid for work from the county council.
During a debate about it in a cabinet meeting, Liberal Democrat group leader Liz Tucker said the Conservative administration “need to try harder”.
It comes despite figures revealing about 80 per cent of the cash dished out to private firms to do work on behalf of the council stays within the county.
Coun Tucker said: “This looks like one area where we need to try harder – I appreciate we are making efforts with this, but we are not making enough effort.”
But her comments were rejected by the Tories, with leader Councillor Adrian Hardman saying: “I am not sure exactly what you want us to do.”
As your Worcester News reported last week, councillors are being told to encourage more small firms to bid to work.
The council spends millions each year on awarding contracts to third parties for all manner of work, from routine road improvements to care home upgrades.
A report by a team of councillors tasked with scrutinising the spending called for a proper database to be created so bosses can see how much of the cash is staying in the county, but it was rejected on the grounds of cost.
Councillor Ken Pollock, one of the authors, said: “Our conclusion is that the situation is very positive at the moment.
“It is a pity the cabinet feels a database will be too expensive, but other than that we are pleased with where we are.
“In many cases where a contract goes to a firm outside the county, it still benefits residents here as local people are still tasked with doing the work.
“In one case we gave a cleaning contract to a firm in Milton Keynes because a county-based bidder offered a poorer and more expensive service.
“But even in that case, the company was not sending up bus loads of people to clean Worcestershire, they were employing local people to do it – so it was still benefiting county residents.”
Coun Hardman said: “The fact is, 70 to 80 per cent of our spend goes to county businesses, but there are some services we cannot procure locally, no matter how hard we try.
“We’ve got a dedicated website which shows how people can do business us and are doing an enormous amount of work.”
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