27 January 2000 | Elizabeth Bellamy
Essex County Council will meet with private bidders this week to discuss outsourcing its warehousing and distribution service, writes Elizabeth Bellamy.
Dave Wheller, head of corporate procurement at the authority, said it aimed to finalise the contract by the end of March. The move is part of a strategy rethink which could see procurement expand its scope within the authority.
The hiring of temporary staff, business travel and the introduction of purchasing cards are being considered as areas where procurement could be more involved. "Our main focus will be on buying services and taking part in projects such as private finance initiatives," Wheller said.
The council spends £1 billion a year on purchasing, which includes catering, cleaning, grounds and vehicles.
Outsourcing warehousing and distribution services could generate substantial savings for local authorities, said Nick Holmes, sales office manager for Lancashire Purchasing Agency, a private firm that took over these services and general procurement for Lancashire County Council in 1997.
"Private companies can have better contacts and longer relationships with warehousing suppliers than councils," he said.