Decision status: For Determination
Is Key decision?: Yes
Is subject to call in?: No
Councillor Andrew Jarvis, Finance and Resources Portfolio Holder presented a report which provided an update on progress across the procurement function, a review of activity in the financial year 2019/2020 and a review of the 2020/21 procurement schedule. He welcomed the Council’s new Procurement Specialist, Gillian Flowers, who had taken up the post in January 2020.
The Procurement Team had been busy over the past 12 months supporting the delivery of a large number of procurement exercises for goods and services, the Procurement Schedule for 2019/20 having listed 92. Of these exercises, 45 had been completed, with 14 showing as “work in progress”, two “scope for change” and 31 being carried forward to the 2020/21 Schedule. The Team had led the successful procurements for a number of important projects, including playgrounds, Kendal Markets, consultancy, ICT, Grange Lido and Kendal Town Hall. The Team continued to work closely with the Corporate Asset Manager and the Council’s Property Services Provider (Lambert Smith Hampton) to delivery property-related procurement projects covering servicing and work contracts. This contract would be reviewed later in the year.
The Council’s Constitution had permitted officers to conduct and conclude the contracting processes without further approval providing it was in line with the Procurement Schedule, to be approved by Council at least annually. There was still a requirement to comply with Forward Plan requirements on all contracts prior to contract award. Where a procurement process was over budget then approval would still be required in accordance with the Financial Procedure Rules. Where an officer sought approval for a waiver or exemption under the Contract Procedure Rules this was also included in the Procurement Schedule. An updated Procurement Schedule for 2020/21 was attached at Appendix 1 to the report and included some additional procurement exercises to those approved in February 2020.
A Contract Review Board, comprising officers from the Legal, Governance and Democracy Team and the Finance Team, including Procurement, had been formed. The Board’s work had included identifying contracts impacted by Covid-19, with reports to Cabinet as required, the review of the use of certain frameworks to ensure value for money and working closely with officers from across the Council to understand requests for waivers and exemptions and to limit their use wherever possible. The emphasis of this Board was to focus on value for money.
A Commissioning Strategy had been prepared and approved by Council in July 2020 which would complement the Procurement Strategy. The Procurement Specialist was currently reviewing the Procurement Strategy in line with the Commissioning Strategy as a golden thread, and was also seeing how it fitted into the procurement guidance within the Constitution.
The report referred to challenges in the future. As the UK left the EU, it was envisaged that there would be changes to the Procurement Regulations, initially in terms of thresholds, but eventually in terms of regulation and accountability. The Public Contracting Regulations 2015 would stay in place in the mean-time. The Council’s procurement portal, the Chest, was one of those that would be compatible with the Government’s replacement for OJEU, so any threshold changes regarding advertisements for completion would be automatically put in place.
Internal audit had flagged up some need for improvement in contract management in the Council. With new staff and staff undertaking new roles, there were a number of staff that had not previously had procurement or contract management experience, so a training package was being put together as either a refresher tool or as an introduction to the new duties. Once again, this task had been delayed by Covid-19.
Covid-19 had been a big influencer on the markets this year and would continue to be so for the foreseeable future. Contractors had been seen to go into administration and the uptake for new business was down as suppliers fought to maintain their existing business.
The Council was looking for savings and value for money exercises in order to reduce its deficit over the next few years. Procurement was in a position to recommend routes to the market which could provide those savings, in particular where there were savings from economies of scale and compelling competition. There were areas where Procurement could provide additional support and advice, such as the use of Agency staff, where savings could be anticipated.
Councillor Jarvis moved the recommendations contained within the report and was seconded by Councillor Dyan Jones, Climate Emergency and Localism Portfolio Holder, who was pleased to see reference within the report to evaluation of “green credentials”.
Councillor David Webster drew attention to an Executive Decision made on 30 July 2020 with regard to purchase of fleet vehicles and to a request he had made for information on the types of vehicles considered, a response to which he had not yet received. Whist he appreciated that it was not currently appropriate to use electric refuse collection vehicles within South Lakeland, he felt that this could be a possibility for parking services vehicles. Councillor Webster asked for the reasons as to why electric vehicles were being turned down in the current Climate Crisis, accepting an offer of a written response. Councillor Philip Dixon, Customer and Commercial Services and People Portfolio Holder, thanked Councillor Webster for his comments and undertook to ensure, if no response was received, that this was followed up.
Members welcomed the informative report.
No Member having raised concern when asked by the Chairman, it was
RESOLVED – That the updated Procurement Schedule 2020/21 attached as Appendix 1 to the report be approved.
Publication date: 26/10/2020
Date of decision: 06/10/2020
Decided at meeting: 06/10/2020 - Council