April 6, 2011
council gives thumbs down to 'cost-cutting' purchasing plan
councillors in Burnham-On-Sea have this week given a thumbs down
to proposals to introduce a new scheme for council purchasing
that, it's claimed, could reduce costs.
member of Burnham-On-Sea.com's discussion forums, paulUK, asked
the council to consider publishing a list of everything it buys
so that residents can see whether they can find them at a lower
price, thereby saving the council - and taxpayers - money.
He explained: "Anyone in Burnham and Highbridge would be
able to see if they can find the same (or similar) item for less
money. They pass details to the Town Council, who make a decision
on which item to buy. If they buy the item sourced by the resident,
the Town Council should pay 20% of the saving to a community group
nominated by that resident."
Paul believes such a scheme would save the council money and
also create greater community involvement, plus help local community
groups with extra income.
However, councillors disagreed when they debated the plans at
their monthly full town council meeting on Monday night (April
Chris Williams said: "It's quite an imaginative system but
the more you think about it, the less attractive it becomes."
"We already obtain several quotes before buying at the moment,
and only go back to suppliers to whom we have had a good service."
"It's important to note that we don't always go for the
lowest quote because quality is very important too."
"The admin and advertising costs of running such a scheme
would not be insignificant on the council and purchasing would
also take longer because everything would have to go twice by
the Policy and Finance Committee."
Cllr Neville Jones called the proposal "a most unusual scheme
that I have never come across in all my years as a councillor."
He added: "I feel such a scheme would be very dangerous
indeed and members should be very careful before considering this
Cllr Peter Burridge-Clayton added that he too has concerns about
the proposal. He explained: "Take the example of buying a
public bench. The council pays extra to buy vandal-proof benches,
even though you could probably find normal benches at half the
"If we bought the cheaper bench, it would probably not last
a week and end up costing the council more through repairs and
replacements in the longer term. This scheme is not the right
way for the council to do business."
Cllr Ken Smout agreed, but added: "I do congratulate Paul
on his efforts to save public money. We shouldn't decry anyone
trying to save us money."