THURROCK Borough Council’s Cabinet has been given a stark message by South West Essex Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) to stop trying to “wriggle out” of helping small businesses win council contracts.
Essex FSB Thurrock spokesman, Ross Bannister, said: “In the past Thurrock Borough Council has been praised for the proportion of its revenue budget spent with local firms – in 2007 that was some £29.4 million or 59.4 per cent of its revenue budget.
“The motion approved by councillors on 28 January 2009 was part of that continuing strategy of supporting local businesses, especially smaller local businesses, which are the cornerstone of Thurrock’s economy.
“Sadly we now see the Cabinet apparently trying to wriggle out and not implement a motion approved by democratic vote at a Full Council meeting.
“The claim is that legal advice prevents them awarding contracts to local firms but the facts are very different.
“Yes, every council has a duty to make sure the specification for a contract is right and that the price is competitive but if those two conditions are met it can quite legally and legitimately then choose a local firm rather than one from elsewhere.
“Many local councils are now splitting major contracts down into smaller ones to make them more accessible to smaller, local firms and Thurrock could do the same quite easily if it wished to do so.
Under The Local Government Act 2000 every principal authority – which includes Thurrock Borough Council – has the power to do anything they consider is likely to promote the economic, social or environmental well-being of their area.”