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Local authorities will struggle to bear cost of Best Value

LOCAL AUTHORITIES may not be able to afford the soaring cost of inspecting their services under the recently introduced Best Value regime, it emerged at the Association of Municipal Engineers conference last week.

New figures from the Improvement & Development Agency showed that the expected £92M cost of implementing Best Value over the next year would be nearly double the original estimates. Chairman of the ICE's Best Value taskforce David Green warned that certain local authorities would find it difficult to afford auditing their services and implementing change.

In a critical presentation on the new legislation, which promotes procurement of public services on the basis of quality and price rather than lowest bid, Green said: 'Best Value isn't cheap and I feel particularly concerned for the smaller authorities who haven't got the people to do the auditing.'

Green also predicted that some local authorities would use a loophole to avoid showing that the municipal engineering services they procured were competitively priced. Competition would be undermined by a Best Value rule under which local authorities could dismiss certain bids on the basis of bad workplace practices. 'This rule is open to abuse and undermines the confidence in the Best Value process. No other services such as insurance, cars or supermarkets are subject to this rule, ' said Green.

Other local authorities would struggle because they did not have the 'depth of awareness' of the new regime, he added.

Advancing Best Value in the built environment can be ordered on (020) 7665 2223.

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