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Mail :
Strategic Procurement Unit
Chief Executive's
Plymouth City Council
Plymouth PL1 2AA
Phone :
01752 307967
Email :


Civic Centre

Procurement frequently asked questions

Where can I find tender opportunities for Plymouth City Council?

Plymouth City Council advertises tender opportunities on the Supplying the Southwest Portal website.

How can I improve my chances of being successful with tenders?

Plymouth City Council has created a guidance document called How to do business with the Council to assist suppliers in completing tenders.

What are contract standing orders?

Contract standing orders set out mandatory rules, which Plymouth City Council staff must follow when purchasing goods, works or services.

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Where can I get them and how do they effect me?

Contract standing orders are published on the Council's internet and intranet. They are also available from the Strategic Procurement Unit. If you purchase on behalf of the Council you must follow the rules contained within Contract Standing Orders. They apply to schools subject to the Fair Funding Scheme.

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At what point are tenders required?

For procurements up to £100,000 at least three written quotations must be invited, two of which should be from local suppliers where possible. If the procurement is valued at £100,000 or above, tenders must be invited.

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How do I assess the value of the procurement?

The value is based on the probable sum payable to the provider over the term of the contract. If the value is £50,000 per annum for two years, then the value of the contract is estimated at £100,000. If there was an option to extend the Contract for a further year then the value is estimated as £150,000.

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Do we have to tender for every contract over £100,000?

No, contract standing orders set out exempt contracts for which tenders do not need to be sought. For example:

  • individual agency contract for temporary staff
  • contracts of employment
  • contracts for personal care services

The full list is detailed in the contract standing orders. However, quotations should still be sought. If there are circumstances where there is an unforeseeable emergency involving immediate risk, Chief Officers may then take immediate action but must prepare a report for next Cabinet to support the action taken

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What are the European Procurement Regulations?

The Regulations apply if the estimated value of a contract exceeds the thresholds set out in the Regulations. The new EU Procurement Thresholds 2012 are as follows:

  • Supplies: £173,934
  • Services: £173,934
  • Works: £4,348,350

These Regulations are legally binding on the Council and it is illegal to break up contracts to avoid the application of the European Regulations.

The Regulations require the Council to advertise contracts in an electronic publication called the Official Journal of the European Union (OJEU). The Strategic Procurement Unit will arrange for the advertising of contracts.

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What are the procedures for inviting tenders?

There are three main methods for inviting tenders:

  • Open Procedure - you advertise the contract on the Supplying the Southwest Portal website and in the Official Journal (OJEU) if appropriate. Everyone who replies to that advert must be sent a set of tender documents.
  • Restricted Procedure - you advertise the contract on the Supplying the Southwest Portal website and in the Official Journal if appropriate. This invites companies to apply to be placed on a tender list. A shortlist is drawn up and tenders are issued to the selected companies. The tenders are assessed and the contract is awarded.
  • Negotiated Procedure - in exceptional circumstances it is possible to enter into direct negotiation with suppliers. This should not be undertaken without the agreement of the Head of Strategic Procurement. Negotiations will be entered following the receipt of tender documents in accordance with an Open/Restricted procedure.

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How is a tender assessed?

Tender evaluation criteria are agreed before tenders are returned. Possible criteria are price, service, quality of goods, running costs, technical merit, previous experience, delivery date, cost effectiveness, quality, relevant environmental considerations, aesthetic and functional characteristics, safety, after-sales services, technical assistance and any other relevant matters.

Tender evaluation criteria are to be agreed by the relevant authorised officers. (see table of authorisation - contract standing orders).

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Who decides whom to award a tender to?

The project team upon completion of a tender evaluation must produce a written report and this report will need to be approved by the relevant authorised officers. (see table of authorisation - contract standing orders).

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