Airdrie & Coatbridge Advertiser
Councillors explain their tender decision
Parties will ask for inclusion of women’ said expertise
Councillors say they are unable to influence or interfere with the outcome of the service tendering process, and insist they want to ensure that the Women’s Aid organisations can continue contributing to local services.
They unanimously agreed an SNP amendment to the committee papers, asking for a report for their next meeting “detailing how the expertise of Monklands, Motherwell & Wishaw and North Lanarkshire Women’s Aid and others might be integrated into the new approach to domestic abuse service provision”.
It added that: “Women’s Aid locally have built up expertise since 2008 focusing on crisis support, advocacy, on-call, one-to-one and support services, and these skills and talents must be recognised and appreciated by North Lanarkshire Council in our overall approach to the delivery of these vital services.”
The SNP group issued a statement following the decision outlining “the challenge that faced councillors”, saying they “were faced with a report to make a contract award to an organisation who had legally and successfully won through a tendering process – in which councillors, under their code of conduct, are unable to interfere.
“[Our] councillors made significant enquiries to understand the potential role Women’s Aid can have in the future against the backdrop of a committee report which could not be rejected, reviewed or continued in the context of legal processes and the code of conduct.”
Agnes Magowan, the group’s education and families spokesperson, said: “I understand the concern that has been expressed across communities about the potential loss in services by Women’s Aid.
“The SNP group is actively listening, but the rules of procurement are clear and the award has been made to Sacro to deliver these vital services.
“But we do not consider this should be done in isolation. We appreciate the services provided by Women’s Aid, such as housing, support groups and refuge.
“We view Women’s Aid as a crucial part of the scheme to support women and children experiencing domestic abuse in North Lanarkshire; the report which we obtained cross-party support for is a beacon of hope that their work will continue to support overall service delivery.”
Party colleague Claire Barclay praised “the powerful and important work” of Women’s Aid and added: “We can ensure that the way forward includes their vital work and that we do not lose their many, many years of experience and expertise; publication of the urgent report on future services [will be] a way forward which should include Women’s Aid in North Lanarkshire.”
Councillor Frank Mcnally, the education and families committee convener, said: “The council has undertaken a full, open and transparent procurement process, which Women’s Aid participated in. Under the legal
tender framework Sacro have won the contract. Elected members have no role in influencing the tender process.
“The council is committed to tackling domestic abuse in all its forms and supporting victims.
“There will be no detriment to domestic abuse services in North Lanarkshire as a result of this procurement outcome.”
A statement from the Conservative group said: “It is extremely disappointing
that Women’s Aid was unsuccessful in their bid to provide specialist services, given the outstanding work they do to help women and children who have experienced domestic abuse.
“We joined with other parties to ensure that a paper is brought before the relevant committees detailing how the expertise of Women’s Aid and other charities could be used to help shape the new approach to domestic abuse service provision at North Lanarkshire Council.”