Jobs for the (local) boys – Leeds Council to hold inquiry

Leeds Council is going to look in to seeing whether it can give local people and businesses a fairer crack of the whip when it comes to the jobs and services it generates.

The Council is going to set up an internal inquiry into how it can “maximise its existing powers to promote, influence and create local employment and training opportunities around major development projects and the purchasing of services”.

Terms of reference for the inquiry are being drafted and are going to be discussed at a meeting of senior council officials next week (Thursday 22nd September). According to a draft schedule, the inquiry will kick off next month by looking into the current state of play, and make its recommendations in January.

The inquiry is going to look at how the council could “promote, influence and create” local employment and training opportunities either as a “developer, enabler or purchaser”. That means exploring how obstacles to making all this happen could be removed – obstacles that currently prevent local firms bidding for and securing contracts with the council. And obstacles such as cost.

Profits going elsewhere

The current state of play is pretty woeful. Take IT. The Council is currently embarked on a much-needed £1.8 million revamp of its creaking IT infrastructure. Are Leeds firms heavily involved? No. (more of this coming up in a post soon)

Take the issue of who provides the Council with the legions of agency staff it buys in each month to keep things running. Is there a Leeds firm heavily involved? No, the bulk of the work goes to firms like Comensura, the multinational “provider of human capital services”.

Take construction. Are Leeds firms heavily involved in the building of the prestigious Leeds Arena? No. That’s being done by the Dutch-based firm BAM. Are they going to be involved in its running once it’s been built? No. That’s going to SMG Europe. What Leeds will get are workers on site during construction, a smattering of token apprenticeships and the usherettes. The development profits are going elsewhere.

Here’s the state of play as regards construction. You can see from the table below that there isn’t a single Leeds firm in the top ten used by the council for construction in the first half of this year.

So, what the Council is now proposing (presumably) is that all this is going to change. Or maybe that’s not what they’ve got in mind.

Whatever, there’s no indication that the people and businesses of Leeds are going to be asked to help with the inquiry. So if you’ve got a contribution to make you could always email it to the people who are handling the inquiry, the Council’s Scrutiny Board (Sustainable Economy and Culture) here.

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3 Responses to Jobs for the (local) boys – Leeds Council to hold inquiry

  1. Ally says:

    I think I’m right in saying that EU rules dictate that the Council can’t just give the work to local companies. There has to be a proper bidding process and the company that best meets the criteria, wins. They can include a criterion to create local jobs or something like that, but they can’t just pick the local company they want, sadly. I’m interested to see what they come up with on this one. Interesting article – thanks.

    • Agreed. But the terms of reference do specifically mention “procurement law and practice” as one of the obstacles that could be removed. And yes, it will be interesting to see how seriously they’re going to look at it all.

  2. Mike Chitty says:

    Ironically I looked a an ITT from Leeds yesterday to go onto their ‘community engagement framework’. A shed load of work most of which is irrelevant to a sole trader (and to the work Leeds are commissioning) just to get onto a shortlist of 6 or so who will then have to tender for any work, should it come along.

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