Opportunities for local businesses to become council suppliers

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Published Date: 

8 Apr 2014 - 15:23

ARGYLL and Bute Council is making it easier for local producers to supply fresh food to schools as it prepares to issue a tender worth at least £60,000 per year.

The contract is for supplying fresh meat and fresh fish to schools, hostels and social care units across Argyll and Bute. The decision to prepare this tender in a new way came after Argyll and Bute Council’s procurement and catering teams hosted a forum for potential suppliers in March, where they had the chance to discuss how to encourage local companies to bid for contracts which also meet the local authority’s needs.

Rather than using a national contract by default, the Argyll and Bute tender will be split into two separate product lots – one for fresh meat and another for fresh fish. It will also be divided into nine geographical lots which will allow suppliers to submit a tender for one or more areas, or for the whole of Argyll and Bute if they choose.

The tender will also build on the highly successful Bute Fresh Food project, where suppliers of fresh meat, eggs and cheese to local schools were encouraged to involve pupils in the production and sourcing of food through visits and tours. An initial pilot has proved to be so successful that it has been extended to a full term contract.

“This new approach presents a real opportunity for local companies to become council suppliers,” said Argyll and Bute Council Leader, Councillor Dick Walsh.

“Breaking down the contract into smaller lots and creating a link between suppliers and education means that local businesses are genuinely able to compete with larger companies.

“The success of the award-winning Bute Fresh Food project proves that this type of procurement model can work. Not only does it give opportunities to local businesses, it has social benefits for pupils, helps to boost the local economy and helps to reduce waste and packaging.

“We have to abide by EU procurement rules and can’t discriminate in favour of local suppliers – but they are well placed to meet tender criteria such as environmental and social sustainability.

“I would encourage businesses to take part in this tender process so that Argyll and Bute can be covered by a range of suppliers. If this can’t be achieved, we would have to look at reverting to the national contract approach. There is a lot of help available to businesses to help them enhance their tendering skills.”

The fresh meat and fresh fish tender is due to be published in May on the Public Contracts Scotland Portal – www.publiccontractsscotland.gov.uk . Registration is free. Electronic or paper copies can be obtained from Elaine Appleby on 01369 708594 or email Elaine.appleby@argyll-bute.gov.uk.

Companies can also find out more about the tender process and access free support from Argyll and Bute Business Gateway on 01546 605459.

In addition there is assistance available through the Supplier Development Programme – sign up free for support and workshops at www.sdpscotland.co.uk