PLEASE EXPLAIN: Lockyer Valley finance portfolio councillor Chris Wilson (left) defended the council’s spending, despite it flying in the face of it’s support for the Town Proud shop local initiative. Picture: Dominic Elsome
PLEASE EXPLAIN: Lockyer Valley finance portfolio councillor Chris Wilson (left) defended the council’s spending, despite it flying in the face of it’s support for the Town Proud shop local initiative. Picture: Dominic Elsome

Millions flow from council coffers to ‘out of towners’

DESPITE backing a shop local campaign, the Lockyer Council paid out nearly 80 per cent of its supplier fees to businesses from outside the region.

More than $16 million of council funds has found its way into the pockets of non-local suppliers, while Lockyer Valley businesses have received less then $3m.

The staggering sums were highlighted in the Lockyer Valley Regional Council's procurement report.

The decision to use external suppliers appears at odds with the council's own messaging, being a major supporter of the Gatton Star's Town Proud campaign, which encourages residents to shop locally.

Mayor Tanya Milligan told the Gatton Star in November last year "shopping local means supporting local jobs".

"When you are Town Proud and shop local it helps to keep jobs local and strengthen the long-term economic future of the Lockyer Valley," Cr Milligan said.

"There really is no need to look anywhere else."

But Finances Portfolio Councillor Chris Wilson defended the spending, saying many of the suppliers council needed were not available in the Lockyer Valley.

"Some of council's largest annual procurement expenses are for highly-specialised services such as waste collection, asphalt works, energy costs, heavy machinery and certain types of engineers," Cr Wilson said.

"The availability of local suppliers within certain procurement categories continues to be our biggest barrier in achieving higher local-buy rates."

In the July-September quarter, the council made payments to suppliers totalling $11,398,698 - of which, just $1,955,748 went to local suppliers.

It means local businesses pocketted just 17.16 per cent of the total spent.

The October-December quarter was likewise one sided, with just $1,027,786 of the total $7,739,596 spend staying in the region.

Cr Wilson defended the expenses and said the council aimed to award contracts to local suppliers "wherever possible".

"The council's current procurement policy carries heavier weighting for local suppliers to ensure they get the best opportunity to secure contracts within a fair and equitable framework," Cr Wilson said.

"Compulsory state government charges, state government disaster management levies, vital water and sewerage services and infrastructure and waste collection services all table as some of the largest non-local spends in the December quarter."

But it's not just total spending where locals are losing out, with the number of local suppliers sitting at less than a third in both quarters.

Cr Wilson said the council was working with local businesses to improve local buy rates.

"More local businesses engaging in council's local buy panels will result in more contracts staying local," he said.

The Gatton Star also requested quarterly break downs on procurement for the full 2018-2019 financial year, however this was not provided.



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