Sheffield council under fire over £13m contracts outlay

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SHEFFIELD Council has been criticised for awarding major contracts worth more than £13 million to non-city firms.

The council encourages businesses from the city and surrounding area to bid for contracts – but major agreements such as the £1m school milk service are going to external companies.

Other contracts include 
£4.9m with a London-based property management firm and Christmas lights set up by a Bradford company.

The figures were revealed by Sheffield businessman John Doe.

He said: “Sheffield Council spends unforgivable amounts of money to suppliers from outside the city and does not do enough to put its spend with local companies for outsourcing of services.

“Sheffield Council is part of the Buy4Sheffield scheme which aims to help promote and support local small and medium-sized enterprises and voluntary and community sector organisations to provide services.

“How can the council justify spending £1m on dairy products from a Wakefield company?

“Also, why does the council not feel there are any Sheffield companies good enough to deliver communications for Marketing Sheffield and why does more than £700,000 for demolition work go to a Nottingham firm?”

Coun Rob Murphy, Sheffield Council Green Party member for Central ward, who said: “These contracts are money going out of the city which could be used to protect local jobs and help the economy.”

The council said it has increased spending with firms in the ‘S’ postcode area – up from 46 per cent in 2008, worth £336m – to 72 per cent by the end of 2010, worth £526m.

Officers say that it is not possible, under competition law, to discriminate in favour of local firms.

Coun Bryan Lodge, cabinet member for finance, said: “We source our services and products locally where we can. Currently 70 per cent of our spend is within the Sheffield city region.

“However, we must make sure we always get best value for money. Unfortunately this sometimes means procuring some of our services from outside Sheffield.”

Some of the Sheffield Council contracts:

* L & R Property, London, property management – £4.9m.

* Nth Midlands Construction, Nottingham, demolition – £710,000.

* NPower, Wakefield, street lighting – £2.1m.

* Parkeon, Poole, parking pay and display services – £84,000.

* PN Daly, Rochdale, domestic gas services – £131,000.

* Festival Lights, Bradford, Christmas lights – £81,000.

* OCMIS, Somerset, Water feature servicing – £20,000.

* TV Installation Services, Mansfield, CCTV maintenance – £134,000.

* Crime Reduction Initiatives, Brighton, substance misuse service – £425,000.

* UBU, Harrogate, residential care service – £434,000.

* Fresh Pasture, Wakefield, dairy milk supply, £1m.