A COUNCIL contract to promote South Lakeland as a good place for business has been given to a Manchester firm.
The decision has rattled local-based PR specialists who say South Lakeland is well-served by companies capable of the work.
The job, with a maximum budget of £35,000 and £23,775 worth of work, has been awarded by South Lakeland District Council (SLDC) to SKV Communications.
Last year SLDC’s economic and inward investment arm, Invest in South Lakeland, was criticised for awarding a £14,000 video job to a Cheshire-based company.
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One PR operator said: “It is perverse that someone at the council has not understood the irony of hiring a Manchester company to go out there and tell other companies that South Lakeland is a great place for business.”
Another added: “There are dozens of excellent PR outfits based in the district. Do they even see the irony?”
Coun Andrew Gardiner, of the opposition Tories on the Lib Dem-run council said: “I believe the council is being hypocritical. There’s no reason why they have to go to Manchester; it’s a disgrace. Promoting South Lakeland should have been done by a local firm.”
SLDC declined to say if the winning bid was the cheapest but said it represented ‘best value to the council, based on its point scoring on quality and price’.
The authority says tender rules means it cannot show favouritism to local companies.
In a statement SLDC said: “We do, however, have a sustainable procurement strategy where we do everything we can as a council to encourage and help local suppliers to take part in the procurementprocess.
“Obtaining value for money and creating opportunities for economic growth is at the forefront of all our procurement activity.
“We provide training, more is planned for later this year, and information to suppliers who want to apply for contracts. We also provide detailed feedback to unsuccessful bidders.
“We are continuing to work towards a target of 35 per cent local suppliers based in South Lakeland.”
The contract will run until March 31, 2015.
The PR company has to ‘reinforce the message that South Lakeland is open for business’ and introduce investors to the council’s Invest in South Lakeland website.
It must also ‘raise the profile of South Lakeland as a world-class place to do business’.’