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FSB hosts procurement seminar at Brighton Expo

Ian Ross, FSB volunteer in Brighton (pictured) launched a practical procurement seminar at the popular Brighton Expo business show.

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The show, which is held annually at Brighton Racecourse, introduced Brighton and Hove City Council’s Procurement team. James Breen explained the contracts on offer across the City, where they are advertised and how the Council’s procurement team assess tenders. Ian, who runs Whitehead-Ross Education, has won thirteen public sector contracts this year, also shared his experiences on what makes a winning bid submission.

“Public Procurement and gaining more business for smaller, local firms in working with Councils is a major priority for FSB in Sussex.” said Martin Searle, Development Manager. “Smaller businesses do not have procurement experts on their staff, so Councils need to make sure their buying process is straightforward to navigate.” added Martin. Local Councils, including Brighton and Hove City Council, advertise their contracts on Supply to East Sussex, where firms are also encouraged to register. “We are encouraging Councils to use the portal to invite firms that are registered, to quote for opportunities that are relevant to them.” explained Martin Searle.

Questions from the floor included an exploration of social value. This is enshrined in Law where Councils must examine the social value firms can bring to local communities in winning contracts. This could include taking on a new apprentice, providing jobs or contributing to community projects with charities, schools or the NHS. “Local firms need to tune into this issue as it can give an edge in winning contracts.” said FSB’s Martin Searle. 

FSB encourages its members to consider tendering for contracts relevant to their business and not be deterred if they do not win straightaway.  Martin Searle, who himself has been on both sides of the client-contractor relationship, added: “Building the knowledge, skill and networks for success will take time and requires reserves of patience and resilience. Ask questions during the process and do look on-line at the answers given to other bidders. Tailoring your bid to the assessment criteria is essential.”