Monaghan contractors angry at losing out on major projects

19 November 2010 No Comments by The Northern Standard

Anger and frustration among Monaghan-based construction firms that the contracts for major public works in the county were consistently awarded to contractors from outside the county, very often to those based in Northern Ireland, was aired when Monaghan Town Council met on Monday night.

Both Monaghan Town Manager David Fallon and Town Engineer Gareth McMahon emphasised in the course of the debate that local authorities were bound by strict procurement rules in the awarding of tenders and were compelled to accept the lowest tender submitted in all but exceptional circumstances.  They could not exercise any positive discrimination in favour of local firms for these reasons, the officials pointed out.

Discussion arose when Donal Sherry, who had referred to a Manager’s Order relating to the awarding of a contract for the erection of way finding signage for Monaghan Town, was informed that the contract had been awarded to a Kilkenny firm, Signtec.

Town Manager Mr Fallon said this company had done the ‘Monaghan Way’ signage.

Cathaoirleach Robbie Gallagher said he was glad the contract for the work had been awarded, but it was disappointing that no local contractor had been able to do the work.

David Maxwell said there were a number of local contractors who had submitted tenders.

Town Engineer Mr McMahon said that a very detailed specification and tender document had been prepared in relation to this project to ensure that the quality of the work was to the required standard.  He said that all the contractors who had submitted tenders were equally capable of carrying out the work, but the determining factor was the price.  The Town Council was bound, under procurement laws, to take the lowest tender unless there was some significant reason that the tenderer could not be used.

Colr Sherry said this was something that the general public didn’t understand.

The Engineer pointed out that when the Council could operate within the procurement rules to use local businesses for small, one-off purchases, they did so.  They had given local businesses significant trade in this manner, and he believed the businesses would acknowledge that.

Mr McMahon added that the Council was in negotiations with a local contractor in relation to forthcoming insulation upgrade works it would be carrying out.

“My remit is to get value for money for the Council,” the Enginer remarked.

Colr Sherry: That is not in dispute.

The Cathaoirleach said he appreciated that the Council had to adhere to the law and regulations.  However, local contractors were frustrated, and often asked the question why northern contractors always seemed to be successful when the bigger capital project contracts were being awarded.  Colr Gallagher emphasised that he had nothing against northern contractors, but a lot of local companies had made this point to him.

Colr Sherry said this point had been made to him also.

Full report in the Northern Standard

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