I checked with the 'man from ESPO' who replied.
'The"round robin" email is unfortunately mis-quoting comments I made at the Norfolk stakeholder meeting on 20 February.
I understand Jane Waring has already written to you to acquaint you with information on the Eastern Shires Purchasing Organisation and the fact that it is jointly owned by Norfolk County Council. I have personally been a Senior Local Government lawyer for over 30 years and fully understand and appreciate the whole range of public sector statutory requirements including but not limited to Health and Safety, Race, Equality non-discrimination etc.
The comment I made at the stakeholder meeting was intended to give comfort particularly to voluntary sector bodies that the documentation would be structured so as to enable ease of the application process with guidance and advice on how questions should be answered. In essence, it was to ensure an understanding of the issues and their importance, eg Health & Safety.
ESPO is obliged to comply with all the legislation that binds Local Authorities and I wish to assure you and those included on your circulation list that we do so most diligently. In this respect would you be good enough to forward this email to the recipients of your earlier email for their information.
Please visit our website at www.espo.org for information on the structure and governance of ESPO and if there remains any further doubt or concerns over these issues then please let me know as soon as possible.
Ed Walsh MCIPS, LLB Solicitor
Assistant Director - Strategic Procurement'
I really think that ESPO are as sound as it gets, we wouldn't be working with them otherwise. I hope this clarifies things.
David Hayman Principal Consultant Tel: 01603 223289 Fax: 01603 223232
Thanks for the `clarification.` Not my perception of the spirit in which it was said but I'll certainly publish Mr Walsh's mail.
I'm not sure either if a conglomerate run on commercial business lines (despite claiming to be non-profit making) involving some standardisation between several county councils is entirely within the spirit of legislation which says it specifically encourages the `local` development and evolution of each LINk and how each individual local authority Host will operate.
While I'm on, I'd like to suggest some mutual liaison between LINks interim and future developments with the Neighbourhood Forums organised by our District Council (South Norfolk) these are partnerships between County, District and Parishes set up to give a local voice to citizens about genuinely local issues and allied to LAAs. They are an obvious first adjunct to Hazel Blears' proposed White Paper empowering local communities, to be published this summer and, it seems to me an obvious vehicle for enhancing LINks activities.
At the Eastern Rivers Neighbourhood Forum meeting in Haddiscoe (how's that for reaching out into the `desert`) on Tuesday, I talked to the Forum about LINks and the value of promoting LINks activity via the Forums. I gave our `Neighbourhood Manager,` Georgina Hinds your name and suggested LINks be included in the draft Neighbourhood Strategy. She may contact you. I hope she does.
My original report says:
I was also there in time to hear the man from ESPO state something to the effect that: “we will not clutter up the host’s contract with things like health and safety requirements as that could take their eye off the ball.” I said as a sometime UNISON representative I was rather surprised to hear this and did he consider matters such as rural proofing and observance of the Disability Equality Duty would also “take their eye off the ball.” He did then say they would include all things embedded in County Council policy but I didn’t like his commercial business attitude dismissive of such considerations. Unsure of being able to trust what is said by this private sector intervention I have asked if I can have a copy of the draft contract...
I stand by what I heard and what it came across as meaning - and there are enough witnesses.