Agenda item

Constitution – Contract Procedure Rules (Agenda item 8)

Report of Maxine O’Mahony, Executive Director Strategy & Resources and Anton Bull, Procurement & Contracts Manager.


Anton Bull, the Procurement & Contract Manager presented the report.


Members were being asked to consider proposed amendments to the Contracts Procedure Rules and the associated log of delegations to Officers.


The Contract Procedure Rules formed part of the Constitution and were about providing a framework to reduce risk in the Council’s procurement process and to provide an open, fair and transparent way to procure goods services.  The rules were there for a number of reasons, they protected the Council and Officers making those decisions and made it a fair process for suppliers – in compliance with Government processes. 


This was a relatively routine update to the Contract Procedure Rules and there were no radicle changes except for a couple of key points, one being the Audit report that came out in March as a result from the partnership split from South Holland and the UK’s departure from the EU.


Councils were governed by the Public Contracts Regulations which in turn had previously been governed by the European Public Procurement Directive and these changes came about as a result from the departure from the EU (see section 3.0 and Appendix B of the report).


As a consequence to the changes to the Contract Procedure Rules, there were a number of subsequent changes required to the Officer delegations.  Procurement matters were an Executive function and formed part of the Cabinet’s responsibilities and to allow the affective working of procurement Cabinet had delegated a number of matters to Officers and those delegations needed to be updated as a result. 


The Contract Procedure Rules were a subset of the Finance Procedure Rules but in the current version the numbering had gone slightly askew and therefore a tidying up exercise was required (see section 3.2 of the report).


Mr Plaskett, the Independent Lay Advisor, had noticed on page 40 of the agenda pack, although very logical and clear, that one of the EU procurement thresholds was still showing on the table - £75,000 up to EU Procurement Threshold - and asked if this should be removed.


Councillor Monument queried the wording on page 39 of the agenda pack under the heading Competition Requirements and felt that under section 9.1.3 some wording had been crossed out by mistake. Also on page 38, she queried the term ‘call-off’ under section 8.2.3. 


Members were informed that a ‘call-off’ was a term that was used in relation to the Framework Agreement.  The Procurement & Contracts Managers explained that he had removed the term ‘standing lists’ as they had now become Framework Agreements, an explanation was then provided.


Councillor Birt referred to page 32 of the agenda pack under 1.1.1 and felt that the word ‘are’ in that sentence should be changed to ’have’.   He appreciated that the ‘economically advantageous contribution’ had stemmed from the Public Contracts Regulations but when it mentioned ‘economically’ did that mean the UK economy or Breckland’s economy and asked how this was going to be measured and should it be termed as ‘financially’ rather than ‘economically’.  He also asked if the Council would be/could be excluded from awarding a contract to someone that was using tax evasion and exploitative labour. He felt that some of these matters had been partially addressed under the evaluation criteria on page 42 of the agenda pack, but they did not provide any terms of reference as to what the evaluation criteria might be to be able to exclude such a bidder from the process. 


A final and most significant point raised by Councillor Birt was in respect of environmental issues.  He had noticed that there was no sign of any carbon emissions counting/assessments that was crucial since the Council had signed up to its Climate Emergency declaration.


In response to the first point, the Procurement & Contract Manager said that he would get this wording corrected.  In respect of the most economically advantageous tender, further detail could be found on such matters in the Public Contracts Regulations.  Within these regulations all matters required such as financial, economic, environmental matters, as well as delivery and aftersales service were all taken into account when building a contract within the Procurement Team.  The criteria had to be agreed and the supplier would have to be informed accordingly for openness and transparency.


The Public Services thresholds and the supplier selection process were then highlighted.


An updated Procurement Strategy would be bought to a future Committee meeting in due course, and this would include such matters as carbon management and environmental issues.


Picking up on the Procurement Strategy, and whilst not in currently in place, Councillor James asked if the Contract Procedure Rules would have to come back to this Committee as she had noticed on page 43 of the agenda pack there was reference to shortlisting and pre-qualification processes but no mention of a Procurement Strategy.


Members were informed that the Procurement Strategy would need to go through the appropriate approval processes to the Corporate Management Team (CMT) to review followed by Cabinet and possibly this Committee too.


The Chairman had found this very interesting but was concerned about it being too complicated as sometimes the hoops that Councils made companies jump through were far too onerous and therefore proper value for money could not be gained.


Subject to the aforementioned amendments being made, it was




1.     the proposed amendments to the Log of Delegations to officers relating to contracts, detailed in Appendix A of the report, be approved; and


2.     the proposed amendments to the Contracts Procedure Rules, detailed in Appendix B of the report, be approved; and


RECOMMEND to Full Council that:


3.     the Constitution be amended in accordance with Appendix B of the report and so that the Contract Procedure Rules are inserted after the Financial Management Standards.

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