Wednesday, 18 September 2013

Meeting Cornwall's Buyers

This morning I went to a fantastic event at Kingsley Village organised by Cornwall Council and other public sector organisations in Cornwall. More than 700 people were due to attend and there was even a 50 person waiting list. It was organised by the council's procurement team who deserve big thanks.

The point of the event was to encourage Cornwall's businesses, charities and voluntary sector organisations to do more business with us. Cornwall Council (and the others) have a vast purchasing budget for goods and services. We want to do as much of this business as possible with local firms as this keeps the money and jobs within Cornwall.

In some cases, the procurement rules are set by the EU and we cannot change them. But what we can do is to try to help local firms through the procurement process. With smaller contracts, Cornwall Council can set the procurement rules and we should be doing more to simplify them and only ask the questions that need to be asked to award the tender.

But we can also make sure the tenders on offer are as attractive as possible to local firms. We need to achieve good value for money, but we can split some big contracts into smaller blocks so that local small and medium sized firms can make bids.

We should not just be looking at working with businesses. There are many services that could possibly be provided by charities and voluntary sector organisations. At a budget consultation meeting last night I met with a staff member from one of these who was keen to see what they could do.

And we can do more to work with other public sector organisations to share costs and buy jointly where it is appropriate. That's why I spent part of my time this morning talking to the other buyers - the rest of the public sector in Cornwall - about how we might do more to align our timetables and buy together.

With the financial pressures facing the council at the moment, it makes sense not just to get value for money but also to try to make sure that as much as possible of what we spend is recirculated within the Cornish economy.

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