Anger over summit times

Coun Leigh Bramall, Sheffield Council cabinet member for business, skills and development.
Coun Leigh Bramall, Sheffield Council cabinet member for business, skills and development.
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Sheffield Council has been criticised after organising a summit where companies could find out about local authority contracts during working hours – then cancelling because not enough firms could make the event.

The ‘Meet the Buyer’ session was due to take place on Friday, when firms had the chance to find out about working for the council and its large contractors, including Veolia and Amey.

However, businesses who had registered for the Town Hall event were told: “Due to a lack of attendees, the summit is cancelled.”

Only 20 firms had confirmed attendance.

Ken Torres, of Torres Pumps, Brightside Lane, Newhall, said: “They used to be held after normal working hours. Therefore, a manufacturer, like myself, could attend.

“If the meetings are to benefit local business, then it should be held at a time and place convenient for local business to attend, not for the convenience of the council employee.”

His criticism was echoed by Coun Ian Auckland, council opposition Liberal Democrat business spokesman, who said: “Meetings need to be at a business-friendly time, not a bureaucrat-friendly time.”

The council acknowledged the concerns.

Coun Leigh Bramall, cabinet member for business, said: “Business attendees had previously suggested the summit was held out of office hours, so attendance was high, and everyone was asked for a suitable time.

“Unfortunately, there was no general consensus. However, we will bear Mr Torres’ comments in mind when arranging future meetings.”

“We will continue to support local firms and offer invitees an opportunity to meet us to discuss any of our initiatives or propose ideas on how the council might improve our engagement.”