As a local business owner with many public sector clients we have to spend much time and resource jumping through the many convoluted procurement hoops required when competitively tendering for government and local government projects.
I submitted a Freedom of Information request to Horsham District Council to try to ascertain the details surrounding the marketing and letting or sale of HDC’s Grade II listed Park House offices in Horsham... whether the selection of an agent was put out to competitive tender or whether a number of commercial letting agents were invited to quote for this prestigious opportunity.
I was particularly interested to know because HDC appear to have commissioned Crickmay who also happen to advise Liberty - the developers who have submitted the plans for the controversial North Horsham development - the plans for this approved in April by HDC.
If the commission wasn’t tendered, I was keen to know the reasons why Crickmay were chosen to undertake this role.
The council did provide some information, however do not seem to have retained or be able to access any information relating to the decision-making process.
The limited information divulged is apparently covered under the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988 and I am therefore not allowed to share the detail.
The Freedom of Information Act was passed by Parliament with good intentions – to make government at all levels more transparent.
But councils appear to adapt their processes to the Blair unrecorded ‘arm chair decision-making’ process, key conversations on private mobile phones and no good old fashioned minutes, or tendering procedure to trace a trail of events.
Rather too cosy?
Rusper Road, Horsham