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Voluntary organisations told to keep quiet on Richmond Council bidding process
Voluntary organisations which now must competitively bid for council funding have been banned from talking to councillors or the press.
The council’s conditions have been set up due to commercial sensitivity, but critics claimed it was an attempt to gag voluntary organisations.
A document detailing Richmond Council’s tendering process to voluntary organisations which support vulnerable adults is not available on the council’s website.
Leader of the opposition Councillor Stephen Knight was shocked by the decision to stop voluntary organisations discussing bids and keeping the document hidden.
He said: “The fact that the council is trying to gag the entire voluntary sector and the fact it is trying to do it secretly is entirely shocking.”
Community services, such as Linden Hall in Hampton and Elleray Hall in Teddington, could lose grant funding from Richmond Council after the authority forced them to enter a competitive bidding process earlier this year.
Richmond Council said it was essential its procurement process was dealt with legally and offered equal opportunities to all bidders, so only those interested in bidding could view tender documents.
The current funding allocated from the voluntary sector grants budget for vulnerable adults is £745,000 and will increase to £945,000 under the council’s new model – but charities still fear their futures are in jeopardy.
A Richmond Council spokesman said: “The complete integrity of the process is important as it protects both the authority but also those wanting to bid for the work.
“The publicity guidance is standard practice in relation to any procurement, to ensure that there is no question or undue influence or lobbying on either side.
“Once a contract is awarded, the council will work with the successful supplier around any potential publicity.”
The deadline for bids will end on September 25.
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