Comment posted School Meals saga: Council distorts facts and blocks Martha’s blog by Integrity? Not in the CondemAll.
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!
Integrity? Not in the CondemAll also commented
- 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.
- 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.
Recent comments by Integrity? Not in the CondemAll
- SNP Chairs and Members of Westminster Committees
I don’t have a problem with someone of Mhairi Black’s age being elected. I don’t think it can do politics any harm whatsoever to have some elected members who can better represent the aspirations of a more youthful section of society. I would have concerns if there was an excessive number of younger of politicians say in their twenties but it is highly unlikely that will ever be the case.
Would she have been elected if the SNP were not on such an upswing nationally? Probably not but you could say that about a lot of the other SNP MPs elected (and also of a lot of Labour ones in the past when Labour were the dominant party in Scotland).
She was heavily criticised during the campaign for some of the remarks he made about drinking (was it alcopops?) but that never really bothered me. She was still a student and if there two things that tend to happen at university it is drinking and hangovers! I also think too much was made of her remarks about Celtic – it wasn’t sectarianism if I recall correctly – it was just a few choice words on twitter – what percentage of people in the world use that sort of language from time to time, especially in their youth!
The head-butt remark was stupid and I doubt she will make that mistake again. It was borne out of frustration and naivety and she didn’t help herself by going on about No voters being selfish and gullible. However there are plenty of more experienced politicians who have mad similar remarks about No voters – not to mention posters on here who seem to think being a No voter makes you less Scottish, a very childish position to take.
However I wouldn’t want to put young people off an interest in becoming a politician by their mistakes when they are in their late teens or early twenties being used as a club to beat them with.
I do think her position on the Work & Pensions Select Committee is odd and maybe ill advised. I think, there are other committees where an inexperienced politician and person (and I mean that purely in terms of her age, not as a statement on her potential ability) might be better placed initially.
- Motion sends Scottish Parliament’s condolences on death of Sir Nicholas Winton, the British Schindler
It is quite amazing that he never made his actions public – they were only discovered by chance by his wife about 25 years ago. A remarkable man. Very fitting and just that he got to live a very long and full life.
- SNP Chairs and Members of Westminster Committees
There is a chuckle to be allowed at the fact that Jim Murphy was regularly criticised by SNP supporters for being a career politician who had no experience of working and now we have an SNP MP with no experience of working sitting on the ‘Work & Pensions Committee!
No criticism of Mhairi Black intended and I hope she does a great job. Just highlighting yet another case of total hypocrisy amongst ardent political party supporters.
- SNP alerts infantry to prepare to hunt out Carmichael
I tend to agree with JB on this. Alastair Carmichael did wrong, of that there is no doubt. I personally think he should stand down (but there are a few other politicians in all parties who should have done the same in the past and haven’t). However I just don’t see how pushing for this court case is merited given the other much more important priorities in Scotland right now.
The crowd fund is sitting at round about £60k just now (which was the target) – if this goes to full trial then that isn’t going to touch the sides of the total bill – it would surprise me greatly if the total bill (for both sides added together) ended up being south of £300k. Where that money is going to come from I am don’t know. The Lib Dems are refusing to comment on whether they are picking up Alastair Carmichael’s bill, who is going to be picking up the ‘people’s final bill if it does go to a full and length trial?
Yes we want fair and honest politics and yes we are not getting it. We didn’t get it from Carmichael but we also don’t get it from Tories, Labour or the SNP (and you can add other parties to the list at will). There are liars and cheats in every party, some on ‘lesser’ issues, some on greater issues. Those pushing for this wearing their SNP badges, including the main petition leaders, are blinded by party loyalty and the stench of hypocrisy is quite foul. All parties need to clean their act up but the ‘outrage’ at this particular incident whilst whistling innocently with a ‘nothing to see here’ attitude to their own ‘houses’ is a bit pathetic.
- Council cuts teacher numbers – without consultation – at Sandbank Gaelic Medium Unit
Whether it is in ‘crisis’ is debatable and is possibly overly dramatic language however Angela Constance herself has admitted that standards in literacy and numeracy are falling and Nicola Sturgeon whilst denying the Scottish education system is failing has admitted it isn’t doing well enough.
I think we can all acknowledge that politicians (of all parties) exaggerate their successes and downplay their failings so you can consider what Constance and Sturgeon are ‘admitting’ within that context.
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