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
- Argyll and Bute Council administration’s gagging clause
In principle the relationship is quite straight forward. The councillors job is to point the council in the direction it wants to go in and the employees job is to manage the operational mechanisms to get there.
Employees should stay out of policy decision making and councillors should stay out of operational matters.
- Argyll and Bute Council administration’s gagging clause
Councillors all over Scotland are bound by the Councillors Code of Conduct within which there is a ‘Protocol for Relations between Councillors and Employees’
That should be sufficient for any council in Scotland. The fact that A&BC, and in particular its leader, feels the need to implement a further layer of protocol speaks volumes about the manner in which the council is run and the shambles they have been for so long.
The people I feel most sorry for are the vast majority of council employees who want to be allowed to get on with their jobs without councillors bickering or being obstructive because employee X is working on item Z which happens to not meet councillor Z personal decision or preference.
- Has Councillor Iain Angus Macdonald’s rush to transfer to the SNP fouled the Ward 5 by-election pitch for Iain S MacLean?
Part of the answer to the issue of resigning from party X and joining party Y is for the public to stop voting like blind sheep and start to question the person behind the job.
There are too many people who would vote for a chimp if it had the right rosette pinned to it.
- SNP lose another Argyll & Bute councillor
This whole PR exercise about the number of people joining the SNP is a nice sound bite but doesn’t really add up to more than propaganda. So there are about 35,000-40,000 members now? At the 2011 elections about 900,000 people voted SNP. All this increase in member is showing is that more people who would vote SNP are signing up as members – it doesn’t actually signal a ground swell of new support, just an affirmation of support by a small percentage of people who voted SNP anyway.
- Bitter alone, Salmond now a declared guerrilla leader in charge of government
Richard, Tim is correct regarding the timetable for the Scotland Act coming into affect. You might be confusing those powers with the fact the SG can already flex income tax by 3p but have never done so. The Scotland Act extends it to 10.
The SNP, and more specifically Alex Salmond, is right to keep the pressure on the main UK parties to deliver on their promises of additional powers. However I think some of his approach is damaging to efforts to heal a rift between yes and no campaigners. Making claims about the parties already going back on the deal after 24 hours is ridiculous as is the talk of independence without referendum both by him and a now utterly irrelevant Sillars.
The SG represents all the people of Scotland, not just the 45%. Time for them to return to that job
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