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Local councillors have asked for Newry Mourne and Down District Council to host a number of information sessions, across the district later this year to encourage and support small local businesses in the procurement process for its services. It follows complaints from several small businesses about the lack of access to council contracts at a local level.

Councillor Róisín Mulgrew who along with her Party colleagues  will be raising the issue at the next Strategy, Policy and Resources Committee meeting said “Whilst ensuring that all council tenders and contract represent good value for money, there is absolutely no reason why this value cannot be met by our smaller local traders who live, work and create employment on a very local level.

The importance of public procurement contracts to local businesses cannot be understated and it is vital that local firms, particularly smaller ones, are given help and advice on how to tender for public contracts and know what is required of a successful bidder”.

Cllr Mulgrew concluded Newry Mourne & Down Council is currently involved in a number of major projects including capital build projects.  It is important that all local businesses have the opportunity to bid for this work to ensure transparency and value for money for ratepayers.

We have many skilled service providers in this District so it is fitting that they have an equal opportunity to apply for these often lucrative council contracts.”

Speaking after Councillors completed a Procurement training session earlier this month, Councillor Pete Byrne added "I initially called for Procurement training 6 months ago and again at the Council’s Audit Committee just before the Summer. As a relatively new Councillor, I was keen to educate myself on the procurement process after I received complaints from several small local businesses about the lack of access to Council contracts. To ensure fairness for businesses within our district, it is important that they are provided with the information and know how on the tendering process so that they can maximise their chances of securing contracts.

"I was disappointed to find the limited scope for smaller businesses to win council contracts as the system currently gives an edge to larger companies. What is particularly infuriating is that once these large companies secure contracts, they then subcontract parts to smaller businesses. This effectively creates a monopoly in which large companies control and benefit from Council contracts to basically manage projects while subcontracting to small firms to carry out the work. This is an unnecessary level of bureaucracy that diminishes the value for money for the ratepayer."

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