ARGYLL and Bute Council is set to step up its efforts to help local businesses secure contracts with the authority.

Douglas Hendry, the council’s executive director, made the pledge after a councillor raised the matter at a key committee meeting.

Members of the policy and resources committee discussed the authority’s new procurement strategy, which relates to how it employs companies to carry out contracts.

As part of the debate at the meeting in December, Councillor Richard Trail (SNP, Helensburgh and Lomond South) questioned what the benefits would be for local companies.

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He said: “The council is a big spender and elected members are keen to see the spend being done in the local community.

“Are we doing enough to encourage smaller and medium enterprises within the area to bid for contracts, or is there more we can do?”

Mr Hendry replied: “It is something that comes up regularly. In terms of the extent of work local contractors take up, I think the procurement and contract management team do engage with them on an ongoing basis.

“But is there more we can engage with local businesses on to help ensure they are in the best possible position to secure work? Not just be from the council but other public sector bodies, in this area and beyond?

“I think the answer may be yes, and that is something we will pick up and look at going forward.”

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Council leader, Kintyre and the Islands councillor Robin Currie, added: “That is a very good question and a very good response.

“Certainly I have had talks with Mr Hendry and others about this in the recent past.

“If we say, for example, house building, there are very few big companies in Argyll and Bute that could manage [the building of] housing schemes, because of their size.

“But there may be an opportunity for smaller building contractors to work together. That is something we are certainly on top of and hopefully can take forward.”

The committee approved the draft procurement strategy, the final version of which will be published in April.

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