Exmouth Town Council admits mistake

PUBLISHED: 01:01 21 February 2008 | UPDATED: 08:50 10 June 2010

EXMOUTH Town Council has been forced to apologise to town traders after spending public money on a major order for council furniture at an Exeter business. No Exmouth businesses were invited to tender a bid to supply 40 new chairs for the Council Chamber

EXMOUTH Town Council has been forced to apologise to town traders after spending public money on a major order for council furniture at an Exeter business.No Exmouth businesses were invited to tender a bid to supply 40 new chairs for the Council Chamber at the Town Hall. A November meeting saw the council's finance committee agree to purchase the goods from Oak Loft, based at Darts Farm Business Park near Topsham, at a cost of £4,255 excluding VAT.A last minute tip-off gave Belvedere Furnishing's owner Ed Cattanach an opportunity to submit a quote, which was rejected in favour of the Oak Loft product.Exmouth furnishers have been left disappointed by an apparent failure to back local businesses. All three independent Exmouth furniture shops claim they could have cut costs on similar products.Mr Cattanach said: "This is a poor effort from the Town Council - they expect local people and businesses to support them, and wonder why they take so much flack?"I'm not upset I didn't get the order, I am upset nobody local was invited to quote. Then I was told they had gone to a 'range of suppliers' and carefully considered the chairs - mine had not even been unwrapped. "In this case I found out about [the plans] but how often has this happened before? "If they can't spend £5,000 right then God help us with the big decisions about the town."Bernard Ewin, owner of Exmouth Bed and Pine, based close to Belvedere in Exeter Road, agreed: "I am extremely disappointed and unhappy with the council's procurement process."Town Council clerk John Wokersien admitted the council had made mistakes in the process, but said he had not realised Exmouth business offered anything but home furnishings.However, a director of the Trade Winds store at Liverton Business Park, Chris Waller, countered: "Bulk supplies are a large part of our business. Why hasn't the council supported local business?"A new policy has now been adopted by the Town Council in order to ensure local businesses get a fair chance to tender for public money projects. A chance to tender for planned refitting of a kitchen at Gorfin Hall will be advertised in the paper.Mr Wokersien said: "I fully accept what [the businesses] are saying, it is a fair point. If we are in a similar situation in the future we will advertise."It was not our intention to ignore local businesses, and it is our intention to support them, and that is why the Town Management partnership has been brought into being by the council.

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