Strict tendering rules exclude local small construction firms from seeking the contract for the Greenway walking/cycling route along the riverbank between Carrick-on-Suir and Clonmel, a meeting of Carrick-on-Suir Municipal District Council heard.
Carrick-on-Suir Cllr Kieran Bourke highlighted at the Council’s latest monthly meeting how one local firm with an “excellent reputation” for work it had done on Co. Council projects couldn’t submit a tender for the Greenway project because it hadn’t a turnover of more than €1m over the last number of years.
He complained that this meant the Greenway contract could only be carried out by a large multi-national firm and not family businesses because due to the recession over the past few years smaller local firms couldn’t achieve such a turnover.
The Independent councillor described the current building contract procurement legislation as “seriously flawed” and called for the tendering rules to be changed to allow smaller firms apply for this high profile contract.
“I think we should be encouraging local businesses. If there is a contractor out there with an excellent record and relationship with the county council over the last number of years they should be given the opportunity to tender.
“I am calling on the (District Council) manager to talk to whoever he needs to talk to and change that situation.”
District Council Chairman Cllr Eddie O’Meara supported Cllr Bourke’s appeal for a change in tendering rules.
“I have come across this on a number of occasions where firms are obliged to have a turnover of more than €1m,” he said.
“Nobody seems to bear in mind that we have come through a recession over the past five to six years. Most of those contactors have found it very difficult to survive but they did. They are able to provide a track record of work and tax clearance certs but then they are denied the opportunity to tender.”
The Mullinahone councillor expressed concern that if a multi-national secured the contract they wouldn’t employ any local workers on constructing the Greenway.
District Council Manager Pat Slattery said the procurement laws for building contracts had changed and were very prescriptive.
He explained that the Greenway contract will be worth more than €1m and the rules stipulated you have to engage a contractor used to doing a project this size. “We have to tender in accordance with regulations,” he continued but promised to check into the matter.
District Engineer Nicola Keating promised to speak to officials in the Co. Council’s Roads Department about the issues raised by Cllr Bourke. She said the authorities were “tightening up everywhere” on how projects were procured with public money and she understood the tendering documents for the Greenway project were based on Department of Finance procurement rules.