Jobs at risk over procurement directive says councillor

A new directive from the Office of Government Procurement which has seen Mayo County Council no longer able to purchase tools and small items from local suppliers is going to cost jobs, one councillor said this week. Speaking at the December meeting of the local authority, Independent councillor Michael Kilcoyne raised the issue after an unsigned note was given to members of the outdoor staff of the council outlining this new procedure.

Cllr Kilcoyne said: "I'm really offended and I'm saying this on behalf of business, where staff [in Mayo County Council] received a note saying that 'tools and small items can no longer be purchased from local suppliers. Tools meaning shovels, brushes, saws, sledges, pickaxes, and small items meaning nails, staples etc. For more information contact the office, no more shopping at Heatons, NCF, Sweeney's etc.' But there will be no problem in sending them out the rates bill, some of these businesses are saying this decision, in addition to causing them financial hardship, is putting under strain the amount of employees they have. This council through their actions are putting jobs in jepordy. I'm amazed there is an unsigned plain paper directive sent around to the outdoor staff of Mayo County Council, I have to say whoever decided to sent it out could do with a bit of schooling to put it mildly."

Responding to Cllr Kilcoyne and other councillors also raised the issue, chief executive of Mayo County Council, Peter Hynes, said: "I don't know who authored this, it was not issued from the procurement section to the best of my knowledge. I presume it was someone interpreting to the best of their ability a circular that was sent out.

"I accept and we try to practise as far as we can the notion to buy local support local, because that's what we are about," Mr Hynes continued. "On the flipside of that we have Government policy and an office of Government procurement, and when they lay down policy we apply it, we do not have the luxury of telling them that we won't apply it. The Office of Government Procurement directs that we procure certain items and services in a certain way. The differences are not minute, if someone was talking about a five per cent or 10 per cent difference, that's one thing." Mr Hynes suggested that a full presentation on the issue of procurement would be done at the February meeting of the council.

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