Comment posted School Meals saga: Council distorts facts and blocks Martha’s blog by Integrity? Not in the CondemAll.
Is it not the case that local authorities do not have their hands entirely tied by procurement legislation? Thay have a degree of flexibility to accept higher priced tenders if they can justify it on other relevant factors (i.e. local economy development would be an obvious one)
It is a myth banded about by local authorities when trying to push through service cuts that best value demands it of them. The concept of best value extends well beyond just issues of price.
Integrity? Not in the CondemAll also commented
- Interestingly the only reference to use of national contracts in the Council’s Procurement Manual is in relation to the purchase of paper & stationery and the leasing of office equipment.
It also references national Category A commodities which are those goods or services that are standard or of a similar nature across the largely common requirements of the Scottish public sector. It states that ‘Currently in scope Category A areas include IT hardware and software, office equipment, utilities, professional services and telecoms among others.’
The bottom line is that it makes no specific reference whatsoever to national contracts for food/school meals etc. You would have thought with the quantity of food bought that if such a contract existed then there would be reference to it however if anyone can confirm whether there is one then that would be appreciated.
My guess is there isn’t one.
As an aside there is also a section on procurement of contractors which states‘
‘Always have a clear specification of the work to be carried out ‘
Which brings me back to the question of whether the clear specification for Kier Bloomer included the informal, formal or both periods of consultation!
- As a further comment A&B’s own procurement manual (last updated 2011)states that
‘the objectives in carrying out significant procurement exercises for the Council should reflect the overall goals and objectives of the Council. Individual goals and objectives should be set with reference to the balanced scorecard.
There are four elements to the balanced scorecard.
2. Internal Process
4. Enhanced Service Delivery
This is followed by a definition of the four elements – sustainability is the most pertinent one to this discussion. It states that
Sustainability can come in a number of guises;
• Environmental improvements can be made from purchasing more efficient equipment in terms of energy consumptions (if quantifiable this may also be a price saving), or from switching to recycled goods, or from reducing delivery frequency or haulage distances.
• Social benefits can be obtained if the method of service delivery proposed under the new contract delivers consequent benefits to the local communities (where this is not the primary aim of the contract). Wider social benefits are gained from the use of fairly traded goods.
• Economic benefits can be obtained where the nature of the contract will deliver wider economic benefits within the Council area, either through the use of community benefit clauses, or from the nature of the service delivery planned.
Also important is the definition of Enhanced Service Delivery which it is stated is is obtained where the nature of the contract is such that it provides a better outcome than that achieved to date, on the primary aim of the contract.
So the Council’s own agreed procedures give them clear grounds to support local business and providers even if they don’t necessarily offer the most price competitive product. That isn’t to say I would fully advocate paying massive premiums just to support local business, there clearly has to be a sensible balance.
- Is it not the case that local authorities are only encouraged to sign up to national contracts – they are not forced to?
I am not saying it is a bad idea full stop – there and pros and cons to it. I am just saying that claims that the Council have no option due to national contracts appears to be a misleading argument.
- Check the facts and you will notice that even the Scottish Government’s Procurement Policy handbook (which all public sector organisations need to comply with)references Regulation 30 of The Public Contracts (Scotland) Regulations 2006 which makies clear that the overarching aim of public sector procurement activity in Scotland must be the achievement of value
for money for the taxpayer with VFM defined as the optimum combination of whole-life cost and quality (or fitness for purpose).
The 2006 Regulations 2006 sets out two methods for evaluating tenders. Contracting authorities can award contracts on the basis of the most economically advantageous
tender or the lowest price.
It specifically mentions that in determining the criteria for the award of contracts, purchasers should rarely rely on price alone. This is because awarding contracts on the basis of the most economically advantageous tender allows purchasers to balance the quality of the goods, services and works they are
procuring against price and to frame specifications in a way which encourages innovation rather than defining the solution.
Appropriate investment appraisal techniques should be used in assessing which
compliant bid offers best value for money.
As part of value for money, due regard to other relevant organisational policies is important, for example, policies in relation to corporate social responsibility /sustainability.
The latter part leaving the door well and truly open to flexibility in procurement decisions if they can be justified on the grounds of supporting some other council policy.
This stype of approach is common where a Council leases a property to a business for below market rates in order to try and encourage enterprise. If they can apply that logic in that situation then they can apply it elsewhere.
- Some of the comments on here about Martha and her parents are pretty appalling and also lacking in sense. If her parents were doing this to be attention seekers why would they have exposed it via a 9 year old’s internet blog – as a story it was a gimme for the national papers (as proven by the reaction when the blog, which received no attention at first, for some unknown reason, went viral) and surely attention seeking parents would have gone straight to them.
There is no hard evidence that the parents were out to make a name for themselves but there is hard evidence that food available to these kids (irrespective of whether it was a choice) was inappropriate and inadequate – yet there are people more eager to blame the parents and a 9 year old than asking questions of the Council (including the Council themselves).
They also criticise the parents for the way they dealt with the situation but seem quite happy with the way the Council dealt with it. I find that staggering. The Council got a Head of Service and ran to the national radio to publicly have a go at a 9 year old child and then strongly suggest that her parents are failing her (unlike the Head of Service who took the opportunity to promote his own parenting skills). It was amateur hour on the part of the Council which epitomises an attitude to the public, and a reaction to them, which many people have become accustomed to from this corporate management team.
Give A&B a chance? They need to earn that right and are failing miserably to do so. Just to be clear I aim that firmly at those running the show from the top branches. Like most of us I know many people working in the lower echelons of the Council who are dedicated and work conscientiously with their integrity firmly intact. This cannot be said of those who call the shots and, far too often, are happy to allow or create the perception that the fault lies elsewhere.
Recent comments by Integrity? Not in the CondemAll
- Mandela an exemplar for redemptive spiritual largeness
I agree entirely and it echoes the point I made above. Around 7.1 million people in the ‘Central Powers’ died during WW1 – Does that make Asquith, Lloyd George and Wilson terrorists?
Estimates are that between 7 and 9 million Germans died in WW2 – does that make Churchill and Roosevelt terrorists?
Certainly not in my mind and I fail to see the difference between Mandela and these leaders.
If the answer is that the difference is that nobody officially ‘declared war’ then that is a ridiculously tenuous line between ‘terrorist’ and ‘war hero’ – this was a war in South Africa as much as any other war is one.
- Mandela an exemplar for redemptive spiritual largeness
I am fully aware of that Karl (that was exactly why I used Suharto to highlight the irony thing – or maybe it should be hypocrisy).
I have no problem with highlighting the ‘bad points’ – it would be ridiculous to deny them and paint Mandela as if he was the Archangel Gabriel his whole life – he clearly wasn’t nor does he claim to have been.
What I think though is that when you consider his actions (both before and after imprisonment) they need to be properly considered within the context of the political environment.
The ANC took money from Suharto (and others) to fund a fight against an evil government – Thatcher took money from Suharto….well just to get money.
- Mandela an exemplar for redemptive spiritual largeness
Far too simplistic is being very generous. It is certainly true that Mandela wasn’t opposed to using violence when he felt other avenues had been exhausted or were clearly never going to make any inroads against one of the most hideous regimes of modern times. He has often expressed a strong preference for peaceful methods but he never fully bought into the entirely peaceful methods more associated with the likes of Martin Luther King – he once said aid that non-violence is a good policy if conditions permit however the period of apartheid in South Africa was ruled over by one of the most odious and oppressive governments the world will ever be unfortunate to know.
For many many years the ANC was a non-violent organisation and only moved toward more violent methods when it became apparent that things were just getting worse rather than better. This wasn’t terrorism, it was civil war brought about by tyranny and unadulterated evil. If the likes of Churchill and William Wallace are held up as historic heroes for their battles against an odious regime then Mandela deserves the same accolade. The US took years to take him off the terrorist list yet they rejoice the name of George Washington. It is total hypocrisy – and let’s not forget Guantanomo Bay detention camp is still open for business.
It, of course shouldn’t escape the ‘irony meter’ that he was classified as a terrorist (and more specifically a ‘black terrorist’ by members of Thatcher’s Government – the same Govt who sold £500m of weapons to Suharto which allowed him slaughter the people of East Timor. Whilst I welcome the various tributes being paid to Mandela by politicians of all parties I feel David Cameron missed an opportunity to include an apology on behalf of the members of his party who took umpteen opportunities to disgrace Mandela during the Thatcher years.
I realise there are people who think that violence is never the answer and ideally that would be a great philosophy to live by but is it really realistic when the ‘enemy’ is so bloody evil that those committed to non-violence see their communities constantly at fear of attack, mutilation and every ounce of self-esteem bled from them by a Government who treats them as human vermin. Of course there are a few examples but they are very much the exception rather than the rule and I don’t think people who will never in their lives have to experience the sort of tyranny that the black people of South Africa did are in much of a position to throw the terrorist accusation around.
- Argyll and Bute Council seriously misleads Holyrood Education Committee
I read the submission about a week or so ago. An astounding airbrushing of history. This is quite clearly not an issue of semantics. It is an embarrassing attempt to paint the council in a better light than their actions merit.
Just further evidence that Cllr Walsh’s claims that the recent statutory report had hard messages which had to be addressed (or words to that effect) was nothing more than empty words. Nothing has changed in the culture of the council.
- Politics and council budgets – the Walsh stratagem
Such a move would have a devastating effect on local economies. It would be the nail in the coffin for many local businesses and consequently small rural villages.
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