Stoke-on-Trent companies have won £66m worth of city council contracts, after a pledge by the Conservative / Independent led council to keep the Stoke pound in the city.
The figure, for 2017-18, provides services for Stoke-on-Trent City Council for several years ahead to support current and future work programmes, and is a significant increase on the amount awarded in previous years*. The sharp rise also includes contracts awarded to Stoke-on-Trent companies under framework agreements – used for council work over a longer period of time. The rise follows changes introduced by the authority to encourage local companies to bid for and win council work.
The changes include:
Full council agreement in October 2017 to re-write the authority’s contract procedure rules to encourage local purchasing wherever possible and while remaining legally compliant.
The setting up of purchasing frameworks for Unitas, the council’s housing repairs and maintenance company which launched earlier this year. A large number of the contracts created by the new company have been awarded to local construction firms.
Latest figures show that the council awarded 358 contracts in 2017-18 totalling £121m, of which 137 went to Stoke-on-Trent companies. The council also awarded £4.1m in contracts to companies in neighbouring Newcastle-under-Lyme, Staffordshire Moorlands and Stafford Borough in 2017-18.
The council’s approach to supporting local businesses and keeping the money it spends in the local area as much as possible saw a series of procurement workshops take place in 2017, led by then council leader Dave Conway. The sessions were attended by hundreds of companies, where they were given the chance to meet face-to-face with councillors and officers, ask questions and have procurement processes simplified.
Conservative Councillor Abi Brown, deputy council leader and cabinet member for finance and partnerships, said: “We have set a very clear direction and determination that we want as much of the money we spend on services, infrastructure and projects for our city as possible to be kept in Stoke-on-Trent. Over the last four years, the council’s leadership has put in place the processes to make this happen, and we’re now delivering results that are having a really positive impact on the local economy. By supporting local businesses, we are keeping money and investment in the city, helping businesses to keep and create jobs, and giving local people the opportunity to develop their employment skills.
“We’re committed to delivering the best value and quality services possible for our residents, and every year we spend millions of pounds on services in areas as diverse as social care, education, housing, transport, leisure and the environment. We spend this money very prudently on behalf of residents and it creates opportunities for lots of different businesses to work with us, for example suppliers of fleet vehicles, mental health training providers and independent fire safety advisors. Very recent examples also include working with businesses to revamp the Wallace Sports Centre, creating state-of-the-art sports and health facilities for residents, and refurbishing toilets at one of our city’s primary schools.
“What is particularly encouraging is the positive attitude of so many of the businesses we are working with, who are committed to investing in their workforces and providing the best services that are helping our city to grow.”
Mark Robinson is the area sales manager for Fenton-based Gunn JCB. The council has a fleet of operational vehicles, including a number from the company such as two telehandlers used in transferring household waste and in loading highways vehicles with materials to resurface roads.
Mark said: “We have a long-standing relationship with the council and it is great for us and for the city. It means that local taxpayers’ money is being reinvested in British industry. JCB is creating new jobs in the area, and for ourselves, we are investing in our Victoria Road business by refurbishing the depot with new facilities to help the company to grow. We’re committed to sponsoring and supporting events and activities in the city too, and provide a full handover and familiarisation of our machines, increasing staff skills and knowledge.”