Cashel councillors, Maribel and Tom Wood, have written a letter to Minister Brian Hayes, TD, the Minister of State for Public Service Reform and the Office of Public Works, concerning their fears for the survival of office suppliers throughout the county if schools, both primary and secondary, are prevented from purchasing necessary office materials from local suppliers.
Under new government proposals schools would be obliged to operate within a National Procurement Service Scheme which, according to the Woods, who are councillors on Cashel Town and South Tipperary County Councils, would have a devastating impact on local suppliers.
The move, they say, could even make some office suppliers non-viable and result in closures and job losses at a time when small firms are already severely effected by the recession.
While acknowledging that it is Government policy to save money through public procurement, the Cashel councillors suggest that there is much more to be lost than gained if the discretionary aspect as to where schools purchase their product from is removed from local decision making.
Their letter to the Minister states: “It is already well known in other areas that large, centralised contracts have made it impossible for small firms to compete while less competition eventually results in higher prices.
“School management and local suppliers are only too aware of the restraints on finance so a very competitive market exists within that sector.
“Any closures or job losses result in a loss of revenue in the local community through the non payment of rates etc. and genuine personal relationships between the local supplier and school personnel, an important ingredient in the provision of a quality service, is lost”.