Let Councils procure locally

A body representing local authorities in England and Wales has issued a warning about the danger of EU legislation that insists on unnecessary or costly procurement procedures, or inhibits local councils’ purchasing priorities. The Local Government International Bureau (LGIB) raises this issue among others in its manifesto for the 2004 European elections (entitled Stronger Together) launched on March 25 at Local Government House, Smith Square, London.

Brian Fewster, the Green Party’s No. 1 European Election candidate in the East Midlands, who was present at the launch, has welcomed the LGIB manifesto as “an important contribution to debate on the roles of different tiers of government”.

"This manifesto highlights the importance of giving local government the freedom to respond to social objectives and local people’s needs," said Mr Fewster. "The LGIB points out that as much as 70% of UK law impacting on local authorities has its origins in EU legislation, and that local government is often at the forefront of implementing environmental decisions reached at EU level. But sometimes local authorities know the needs of their own communities better than remote bureaucrats in Brussels. Current procurement rules are already too restrictive. Councils should be able to use procurement policy as a tool for regenerating local communities, safeguarding the environment and providing employment to local firms. For example schools, hospitals, and care homes should make it a priority to provide fresh local food, which would also boost employment in the locality."

He added "The Green Party strongly supports the LGIB's statement that purchasing decisions should be based on more than cost alone. EU procurement rules about giving consideration to firms from other EU countries limit the ability of councils to use reduction of food miles or compliance with fair trade principles as major procurement criteria. These limitations need to be re-examined."

Key points in the local government manifesto include

The LGIB points out that new rights in the draft constitutional Treaty would oblige the Commission to consult widely before drafting new laws that affect local authorities and to assess potential financial burdens.


1. The Local Government International Bureau (LGIB) acts as the European and international arm of the Local Government Association for England and Wales (LGA). Its website is at www.lgib.gov.uk.
2. “The public procurement directives currently in force contain no specific provision on the pursuit of social policy goals within the framework of public procurement procedures.” (Interpretative communication of the Commission on the Community law applicable to public procurement and the possibilities for integrating social considerations into public procurement, http//europa.eu.int/eur-lex/en/com/cnc/2001/com2001_0566en01.pdf )
3. “The distance travelled to deliver food, or the locality in which it is produced, cannot be a specific factor in awarding the contract. This would be discriminatory. This helps explain why schools, hospitals, and care homes rarely provide fresh local food....Specifications cannot be framed in terms of fair trade requirements, as such social labels are not permitted under the EC rules.” (Public rules for local procurement, http//www.epaw.co.uk/sfg/procurelocalproduce.html )

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