COUNCILLORS have complained they are not able to see all bidders who have made offers for council contracts.

Under a change to the way tendering is carried out at West Dunbartonshire Council, members of the tendering committee only see the name of the recommended bidder.

Using the Scape framework, which grades bidders based on the services offered, the cost of the project and other criteria, only the highest scoring bidder is made available to officers or councillors - meaning they are left in the dark over other potential bids.

At a meeting of the committee last week, Labour councillor Lawrence O’Neill questioned officers about the omission of the names of other firms.

In response, while deciding who would receive the £3.6 million contract for work to Balloch Bridge, council officer Jenna McCallum said Scape does not allow even officers to know who the other bidders were - because the information is considered to be “commercially sensitive” .

Ms McCallum said: “We have asked for it, but we’re not able to get that information because we weren’t part of the process.”

Another council officer, who was sitting off to the side of the meeting, replied: “It’s Scape’s procurement process, therefore it’s their data, so they have to deal with it in accordance with their rules and regulations.

“We obviously wanted to provide that information, but they have said they have communicated to each individual supplier where they have come in the process, but they haven’t put that together in a report.

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“It’s something we’re still seeking further clarification on, because we were the same, we’re not used to calling them ‘supplier A and supplier B’.”

The officer did confirm to the meeting that Scape had informed them the rest of the suppliers whose names were redacted were “all the major players in the industry”.

SNP councillor Marie McNair said: “We understand the nature of the issue, and that it can’t be put out in an open forum like this.

“But, I would have liked officers to have been able to see this.

“The fact that officers haven’t seen it doesn’t give me a great deal of comfort.”

Councillor O’Neill stated that if the names were something to be kept confidential, then there are rules which would allow for the report to be seen in private, with press and members of the public excluded.

He said: “It doesn’t give me a lot of comfort, because we’re being asked to make a decision on this, without knowing all the information.

“It’s not been provided, and it’s potentially being reviewed, and with all due respect, you won’t have people coming up to you in the street to complain about this decision, but we might.”

Annabel Travers, the procurement manager for the council, said: “We’re comfortable, and the service areas are comfortable that what we did was appropriate and it allows us to procure that in time for the immediate work to begin.”

Provost William Hendrie said: “We don’t get to know what the other bids were, and officers can’t see it either.

“But, it comes back to us, the councillors to agree it, which doesn’t make any sense to me.”

Construction giant Balfour Beatty was chosen as the contractor for the work at Balloch Bridge.

It has been estimated it will take six months to complete.