"Have we now got to the stage of having the disposable shovel? Because for the price you've told us we're buying them for, you'd do well to get one fixed for less than that price," asked Cllr Richard Finn this week at the March meeting of Mayo County Council. The councillor was responding to a presentation given by the council's procurement officer John Maughan to the elected members.
Mr Maughan was presenting to the council after concerns were raised by councillors over a new procurement procedure where certain tools were to be bought from a supplier in County Roscommon. He said: "It was said that Mayo County Council staff will have to drive to Castlerea for tools, that is factually inaccurate. There was a national contract for tools and hardware that had seven particular lots in a geographical spread, John A Murphy in Castlerea won six of the seven lots. He won a suite of business for the entire country with the exception of Dublin. For an example of the type of price comparision, a shovel was famously mentioned here [at a previous county council meeting], we were paying €22.99 and they supply the same shovel for €5.69. Were we to engage locally here, I'd be leaving myself exposed, they could consider taking an [legal] action if we decided not to engange with them." He also added that there was free delivery within a day for all orders made by the council over €150 under the deal, so staff members will not be driving to Castlerea to pick up a shovel
Mr Maughan also told the councillors: "The one thing I want to get across, is that after reading some commentary in local papers, first of all I don't make decisions on where we purchase items. That is done through engagement with the market through procurement — through tenders, etc. We can't discriminate, I can't decide as the result of a tender competition that it has to be awarded to a local SME here in Mayo for that contract, we have to recognise that there is equal treatment across the board when it comes to goods and services."