At last Thursday’s monthly meeting of Castlebar Town Council, members slammed the tendering process for works and services used by Castlebar Town and Mayo County Councils. The high level of solicitors’ and auctioneers’ fees in particular came under fire.
Cllr Michael Kilcoyne claimed that the auctioneer who is carrying out work for the council is doing so for twice the price other auctioneers could do it for. “We’re either serious about how money is spent or we’re not,” he said.
Cllr Frank Durcan argued that it would pay Mayo County Council to have its own, in-house solicitor, rather than hiring the services of a solicitor when the need arose. He added that it would also pay the council to employ a full-time auctioneer, as it was currently spending €4,000 a month on auctioneers’ fees.
Town Manager Seamus Granahan said the council’s tendering process was a ‘fully open and transparent’ system and that only a few auctioneers qualified for tendering because the criteria was strict.
Cllr Michael Kilcoyne argued that the council was under no obligation to keep the criteria strict and that the process should be made more open.
Cllr Frank Durcan cited a case where he claimed that a local plant hire operator had lost out on a contract with Mayo County Council by 10 cents an hour to an outside operator with older equipment who was not paying all his staff entitlements.
Seamus Granahan told the meeting that the tendering system means that when tenders are invited, the council must pick the lowest compliant tender and that allowances can’t be made in terms of whether the tenderer is local or not.
He added that he will try to arrange to have the procurement officer of Mayo County Council, John Maughan, at the next meeting of the council to explain the tendering system in greater detail.
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