just as a point of clarification I would like to set the record straight in that the Eastern Shires Purchasing Organisation is a very long way from being part of the private sector and indeed it was unfortunate that you missed the introduction in which you would have heard that ESPO are a consortium consisting of 7 local authorities and indeed have no separate legal entity from those councils. Norfolk County Council are in fact the largest member of this consortium and they act as a virtual extension of my procurement team. In this instance the fact that they are also supporting the LINk procurement for other councils means that we can share the learning from our colleagues elsewhere and save reinventing the wheel where possible, whilst obviously Norfolk CC are doing their utmost to ensure that the solution for the Norfolk LINk is appropriate to our specific local needs.
Also it is the contract notice that is going to the European Union soon and not the contract as discussed at the meeting this would be far too soon to incorporate all the comments and suggestions made at the meeting, and indeed carry out further consultation on the final draft. The notice merely asks for potential bidders to 'express an interest' in tendering for our LINk Host. The reference to trying to simplify the Prequalification Stage of the contract was to enable non-commercial organisations that may otherwise be unable to cope with the normal commercial approach to get past the first hurdle as appropriate. The council policy requirements and standard issues such as equalities, health and safety etc. will of course be included in the full tender, but as I mentioned I intend to hold a bidders meeting to be able to explain our requirements rather than leaving this open to confusion or possible misinterpretation.
I am sorry that a misunderstanding has given you cause for concern and I hope that my explanation has helped somewhat. Thank you for your continued support to the process, I would be grateful if you could pass my message on to anyone else you have spoken to that may be equally misled.
Jane Waring MCIPS MBA
Head of Corporate Procurement
Norfolk County Council
I also looked up the ESPO website to confirm the facts. It says:
“ESPO is a joint Committee of Local Authorities and operates within the Local Government (Goods & Services) Act 1970. It acts as a purchasing agent for its member authorities and other customers and provides a professional cost effective procurement and supply service. The use of our products and services by our member authorities and other customers, as measured by the value of their combined procurement activities, amounts to some £400 million pa and the procurement services provided can be grouped into four categories as follows :
* A strategic role offering best practice relating to the procurement function as a whole. ESPO offers leading edge advice on major complex procurement and contracting issues, competition and services, Best Value driven reviews of service provision and one-off project based procurements. Over the last two years in particular, this aspect of our procurement activity and expertise has grown significantly.
* A procurement role for goods and services commonly used by a number of customers throughout the consortium area. This type of activity includes framework call off contracts and some local contracting where local issues are of key consideration.
* A catalogue based provision where ESPO is able to purchase products in volume (usually low value high volume type products) from manufacturers in the main, and the resultant economies of scale means that we can purchase into our central warehouse here at Grove Park and deliver to customers using a combination of our own and contracted transport. An on-line ordering facility is available for those who want to use it.
* A procurement service for 'ad hoc' goods and services required by customers where advice, guidance and good practice are the watchwords. Often customers need commercial solutions to meet a need or specific requirement in this field.
We are a self-financing organisation, operating on a not-for-profit basis, utilising the aggregate buying volumes of our member authorities and other customers to maximise the potential savings for all customers in every area of our procurement activity.”
My apologies for misinforming others but not for the way I was informed. I have an impairment which means I am unable to leave the house until late morning.
I subscribe to the social model of disability which means the early start to the meeting in question and its site 21 miles away disabled me. If the County Council wishes to prevent such misinformation (and lets not dance around this - I was misinformed by being disabled and that is discrimination) they should observe their own standards as set out in their three “Accessibility Matters” publications (http://tinyurl.com/275h3j).
Neither does this correction excuse the statement by Mr Walsh of ESPO that fundamental matters such as Health and Safety should not be prominent in Host contracts. In fact, if ESPO offers “best practice” and “leading edge advice” to “member authorities and other customers” the seriousness of his statement increases exponentially.