Council’s online tender move to cost newspaper £18k in lost revenue

Money
Money

In a move that will cost the Belfast Telegraph £18,000 in potential revenue, Mid Ulster District Council’s policy and resources committee last night (Thursday) decided that an online tendering system would be a better use of rate payers’ money.

The decision, which must still be given the green light by the full council later this month, means that from April 1 this year any procurement exercise worth over £30,000 will be managed electronically instead of taking out advertisements in the Belfast-based paper’s classified section.

Earlier in the evening councillors were urged to support local journalism in a presentation from National Union of Journalist members Robert Baxter and Annamay McNally.

In it they asked council to consider a motion supporting the NUJ’s Local News Matters Week, which will run from March 24 until April 1, while highlighting the importance of “properly resourced independent media to the functioning of democracy at local and regional levels”.

DUP councillor Paul McLean raised this point, to which council’s communication lead Ursula Mezza said she thought the message was around local weeklies, and that Mid Ulster District Council continue to advertise in seven of those.

Following the decision, a spokesperson for Mid Ulster Council said it is hosting a number of workshops on the move to show businesses just how it will work.

They will take place at council offices on March 27, 2–4pm (Dungannon) and March 29, 10–12noon (Magherafelt), and on the same day from 2–4pm at Cookstown Leisure Centre.

Welcoming the new system, Chair of Mid Ulster District Council, Councillor Trevor Wilson, said: “Moving this element of our procurement on-line system will make the process of tendering more efficient and effective for both the Council and potential suppliers.

“While many businesses will be familiar with electronic systems, others may not and these workshops are an important way for us to help ensure that companies wishing to tender for work are supported in advance of the system coming on-stream”.

To find out more and register for the workshops, please contact the Council’s procurement service on 03000 132 132 or email procurement@midulstercouncil.org.