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The "Illegallity" of seeking advice from a potentail tenderer for a job?

0 votes
Hi all - I am seeking your advice yet again....

At a recent Parish Council meeting it was resolved that we update our village's CCTV system. None of us Councillors know the first thing about the subject, let alone what is state-of-the-art and what can or cannot be achieved using the latest technology.

A resident who installs CCTV systems had offered to assist by attending a meeting to tell us what is now available, what such systems can do and answer any questions we may have on the subject. The objective was that after such a discussion, we, as a Council, would know exactly what we wanted and could then put the job out to tender in the usual way.

BUT.....

One of our number claimed vociferously that to follow this course would be "Illegal" and that by having the resident at a meeting, it would disqualify him from subsequently submitting a quote?

My question is, is this true? If so, the Law is an Ass as how can we realistically ask for quotes if we do not have a clue as to what is available and therefore, what we actually want? To simply ask for quotes for "a CCTV system" would result in prices for set ups which would be entirely different from each other and how then could we then compare like with like?

Thanks for your help with this.....
by (210 points)

3 Answers

0 votes
You might want to talk to the local police force about the subject.

They might want you to link in with their systems, which has some benefits, although all the recordings will be held on the police servers and the Clerk would have to request site of any incidents that happen. It might also solve some technical problems if the system is designed to cover a whole village like ours does.

You should also check on the rules about who can see the videos and who cannot. Our clerk seems happy to share some clips with council members in private, but a clerk I know in another parish insists that only the clerk is qualified and must hold a certificate to say so. (I don't know the answer to that!)

On the point you ask, why not ask all potential bidders to give presentations to the council before you put to out for tender. Then all will have been treated equally.
by (4.4k points)
edited by
How long is a piece of string? You can have a basic system or a super-dooper one that makes the tea and locks up people ( that was a joke for those who missed it)
It isn't what is on the market that counts and if you do not feel that you cannot write a full specification then a simple enquiry outlining what you want to be able to do and ask for quotes and inclusions of recommendations.
The point regarding eligibility to advise ( and write spec) and tender of course is a valid one and not best practice. Simple answer get the helpful expert to preclude himself from tendering  and just advise the Council
We had a very similar situation some years ago when one of our councillors developed and hosted the council web site carrying out the job for a number of years efficiently and on the instructions of the council requirements. That was until the local county NALC office stated that the website MUST be under direct control of the council via the clerk.( trained[ indoctrinated] by the local office) who presented a specification for website requirements that only the company they were promoting as the solution could meet. Unfortunately the committee tasked with deciding had no experience in websites and fell for it hook line and sinker. Result an increase of over £1400 per year in costs ( year on year) and a less than efficient website that successive clerks have been unable to master or ditch.
So get your homework done however you can from as many sources as you can ato enable you to make the right decisions.
0 votes
Public procurement is tricky and a contractor should, ideally, choose whether or not to act as "customer's friend" - possibly for a small fee - to prepare the outline specification and help assess competitive bids. The customer's friend does usually exclude them from bidding as they can influence the spec in favour of their own approach. However it can lead to the "blind leading the blind".

it is important that you, as customer, focus on why you need it and what it must do for you. There is a lot of helpful advice on the web - e.g. at www.cctv-information.co.uk  Do ask bidders to explain why and how their offer meets your requirement; many bidders will just estimate how many cameras are needed and how much storage, hoping they can sort out details once they have a contract.
by (880 points)
0 votes
Thank you for the replies and I am sorry if I didn't pose the question clearly enough?

We have had the local Police "monitoring" our CCTV but would now prefer to look after our own and have already looked into the legalities of who can view the footage.
Whilst I accept it may not be Best Practice, my question should have asked is it actually ILLEGAL for a supplier to attend a meeting and answer our questions as to what is available on the market and what it can do and then, when we have agreed on a specification for the project, tender for it? I should add that the chap who is willing to provide this service for us does not MAKE CCTV equipment himself but buys it in from suppliers that any other installation company could buy from so there is no question of his advice precluding others from offering competitive bids?
by (210 points)
Whether you "advisor" manufacture equipment is immaterial as the vast majority of cctv installers do not manufacture and most would buy the equipment from suppliers. The point is that it is not good practice to have someone advise and also tender for a project as this leaves your council open to accusations ( possibly from competitors) that you were biased to your advisor.
There is nothing wrong with utilising companies to give you a quote based on A) what your needs are and B) what they recommend as improvement or add-ons. Of course it would be advisable that if one company is very thorough  and exceeds your expectations then integrity would require you to also give the other tenderers to opportunity to quote on the same basis.

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