Published: April 6, 2011
Town council gives thumbs down to 'cost-cutting' purchasing plan

Town 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.

A member of'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 4th).

Cllr 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 route."

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 price."

"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."


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