Unauthorised trader concerns

Councillors from across Mid Ulster have expressed their desire to see traders who are operating in Council parks despite not having been awarded the tender to do so, punished.

Tuesday, 16th March 2021, 3:53 pm

Within the next few days, Council hopes to open a tender opportunity for mobile caterers to provide their services within Council owned parks.

At present, Council is asking those interested in applying for the tender to refrain from trading at these open spaces and wait for their opportunity to apply for the tender.

However, speaking at a meeting of Council’s development committee Councillor Frances Burton revealed she has been contacted by a number of frustrated traders complaining about other traders currently trading at these sites.

Cllr Frances Burton

“One of the things that has really frustrated the people who are going to go forward to try and win the tender is the fact no matter what park you go to, someone is trading away in them at present,” said Cllr Burton

“What I would like to know is, for those that are trading at these sites, having already been spoken to by Council officers, does that restrict their opportunity to win the tender?

“I am led to believe staff have spoken to some of these traders who gave a commitment they would not return but were back the following weekend.

“We need to take this issue seriously, it is very frustrating for those who are waiting on the tender coming out and have been respectful to us as a Council and have waited.”

Cllr Burton continued: “By and large it seems people are out there doing their own thing which is not really good practice and those who have been respectful and waited are very frustrated.”

Council’s head of parks, Nigel Hill said he was aware of one trader who has returned to a venue after being spoken to by Council staff and confirmed there will be no reference of this within the tender process.

“I am aware that two of our sites have been visited on more than one occasion and two vendors were spoken to, one of those vendors, I believe, returned again,” said Mr Hill

“These are rural locations and it is difficult for our Council staff to be there all the time.

“With regards to restrictions I am not aware there will be any reference to that within the tender documentation.

“We would certainly encourage them not to trade and if they are interested in doing so to respect the procurement process.”

Councillor Kim Ashton said she did not think position was fair: “I understand people are trying to make a living but I don’t think its fair that if they have been spoken to and continue to ignore the instruction, they can then come in and win the tender 
without any consequence, it doesn’t say much to those who have been waiting as asked.”

The committee Chair, Councillor John McNamee said he could understand this concern and asked officers how Council would deal with a potential situation where a trader pulls up alongside the trader who did win the tender.

A Council officer said Council will be working with its environmental health team to work out exactly what can be done.

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