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Fears small Highland businesses will lose out on council contracts

Highland Council HQ
Highland Council HQ

Highland trades businesses have until today to apply to become approved council suppliers – but smaller traders say they’ll lose out because the paperwork is too complicated.

Highland council has created a new framework for the repair and maintenance of the council’s estate.

Applications can only be submitted online via the Public Contracts Scotland website, but traders have told the P&J they find the process so complex and daunting they fear they will lose out.

The tradesmen didn’t want to be named, but one said: “There are more than 260 questions, and a special 10 page addendum to fill in like an exam.

“I have plenty of other work, but I enjoy council work and I save them money.”

Another said: “It’s a lose-lose situation. Small local businesses will not participate in this exercise, leaving the work to the big boys who are generally more expensive. The council pays more, local businesses get less.”

Councillor Laurie Fraser, who runs Pat Fraser electricians in Nairn, described the situation as disheartening.

He said: “You need a degree in computing to fill this in. I’ve attended a half day on how to fill in the forms but it’s still a nightmare.”

A Highland Council spokeswoman said: “Highland trades businesses were urged by the council to attend a supplier briefing roadshow event near them if they wished to tender for future council contracts.

“Business requiring help when completing their documentation could contact Business Gateway.”

 

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