Council accused of 'outsourcing'
A NORTHERN Rivers trucking company says Lismore City Council has snubbed local businesses by awarding contracts outside the region.
A Coffs Harbour company narrowly beat two Lismore dealers and a truck centre from Murwillumbah to win the contract to supply the council with three tipper trucks.
But Southside Trucks dealer principal Steve Robinson believes the tender process was flawed.
Mr Robinson said his tender was almost $30,000 less than the winner, while another Lismore company had quoted a price almost $80,000 cheaper.
"That's $80,000 they could have saved by buying in town," Mr Robinson said.
"Its tough being in business in a regional area at the moment, so the council should be supporting local businesses to the maximum, but they're not."
The tenders were assessed according to criteria such as price (weighted at 40%), capability and experience (30%) and then a variety of other factors including risk management, capability, quality, safety and local content.
Lismore council's manager of commercial services Phil Klepzig said the council invested "considerable time" in ensuring its tender evaluations were transparent and consistent.
"Our current procedures have been used for more than 200 separate assessments, ranging from purchasing, expressions of interest, quotations and tenders," Mr Klepzig said.
"Based on this procurement process, council does believe all applicants are given a fair chance in the tender process."
Numerous other businesses across the Northern Rivers have told The Northern Star they are struggling - and one business even closed its doors - because councils were looking further a field to do business.
Lismore Chamber of Commerce president David Martin said struggling businesses needed the chance to do business with Northern Rivers councils.
"As a chamber we would always prefer that local money is spent locally to support locals in employment," Mr Martin said.
"It's a very hard environment out there at the moment and everyone is trying very hard to compete for every sale. It's disappointing when contracts fail to be awarded locally."
When asked about giving preference to locals in tenders, most Northern Rivers councils pointed to generic policies.
Lismore Mayor Jenny Dowell said her council had a 10% target to support local content and would consider the issue further at an upcoming workshop.
"We believe we have a robust assessment process and if we can make it better, we're always looking to do that," she said.
ARE COUNCILS DOING ENOUGH TO SUPPORT LOCAL BUSINESS?