Councillor Lewis Herbert, Leader of Cambridge City Council, has said that government proposals to change procurement rules applying to council contracts would restrict the City’s ability to act in the ‘social, moral and environmental best interests of residents and the wider community’ and it was vital to keep decision-making on procurement choices at a local level. Councillor Herbert was commenting on the government’s consultation on a proposed change in statutory guidance that would reduce the discretion councils have in making contracts, and make following the government’s foreign policies a requirement when buying goods or services.
Councillor Lewis Herbert said: “The City Council has just responded to a Government consultation on the issue and we have called for them not to proceed, but rather to allow councils and communities to make their own choices. Labour Councillors think that Whitehall adding even more rules to control councils also contradicts devolution plans, which is all about greater freedom for Councils from unnecessary Government red tape.
We do not take part in any unethical or unjust practices of boycotting or discriminating against organisations, countries or individuals. However, it is right that as councils did in pressing for changes in ending apartheid in South Africa, that we can sometimes use our buying power as our residents want us to.
Our message to the government is that we believe it is better to let councils make decisions that are in the best interest of the residents they serve. Councils are democratically elected and accountable to the local community. “
Councillor Herbert added: “We should be able, when Cambridge feels strongly about the behaviour of an overseas country or major company to decline to buy from them, particularly when we judge their behaviour or ethics to be wrong and we have clear justification for such actions.”