Buy Welsh - action not words.

As discussed below, public procurement has finally become a key government priority.

For those who are interested in reading up on this, then this blog has a number of entries on this subject over the last couple of years:
I have also written extensively on this pre-blogging (for example, in the Daily Post in 2004 and 2002).

It would be easy to to say "I told you so" but clearly government in Wales moves at its own pace and listens to those closest to it.

The important thing is that the First Minister has finally recognised the problem, although despite the warm words towards finally doing something positive on this issue, it would seem that public sector bodies continue to ignore local suppliers.

As an article in the Daily Post points out today, pupils on Anglesey are being served up foreign meat by private contractors brought in to provide the school dinner service. If this is going on in one local authority, what about the other 21 councils, the NHS, universities, local colleges and the Welsh Assembly Government itself.

Over the last week, we have heard yet more political rhetoric over public procurement in Wales but now is the time for action not words.

The first thing the Assembly should do is to ask every local body to give a list of all the contracts they manage so they can get a handle on the situation. After that, they should find imaginative ways of ensuring that local firms are given priority for the supply of goods and services. Utilising a 'food miles'or local sustainability clause in the marking criteria for contracts would be one way to do this.

Finally, they should call a meeting of all the procurement managers within the public sector and get them on board as there is a suspicion amongst local firms that the people who actually make the decision on awarding contracts simply don't understand the scale of the problem and the need for flexibility in supporting local businesses.

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