Ashfield District Council. Image Credit: Jonathan Thacker (CC-BY-SA 2.0)

Council bosses will lobby the government after passing a strongly debated motion focused on supporting British businesses. 

Ashfield District Council leader, Councillor Jason Zadrozny, tabled a motion on February 4 to voice the council’s disappointment that post-Brexit laws merely copied over rules on public procurement from the EU.

This means contracts must be advertised internationally, which often overlooks British businesses due to cost being a key factor in tendering decisions.

This is despite the UK leaving the EU on December 31, which the 40-year-old claimed in his motion prevented local councils from supporting businesses in the district.

Speaking prior to the meeting, Coun Zadrozny – Ashfield Independents councillor for Larwood – said lobbying government would benefit residents. He said:

“If we wanted to build a toilet block, for example, our considerations would include value for money and the environment, but we want to add a criteria for supporting local businesses.

Councillor Zadrozny has been leader of Ashfield District Council since April 2018. Image Credit: Ashfield District Council

“It turns out that rules regarding advertising European-wide, which we thought would improve, are now worse as we are being told we may have to tender jobs internationally due to new trade agreements.

“We want to shine a light on this unforeseen issue – if we can buy something in Kirkby rather than Germany, let us do it.”

The move comes as the council is tendering contracts for a new £15m leisure centre in Kirkby-in-Ashfield, which due to existing fairness rules must be advertised internationally.

The motion was comfortably carried, with 23 voting in favour, one against and five abstaining.

But it sparked passionate debate before the vote, with one councillor labelling it “ridiculous” and others suggesting it was too direct.

Coun Matthew Relf, Ashfield Independents representative for Sutton Junction and Harlow Wood, said: “I have very mixed feelings on this motion.

“I think it potentially oversimplifies something that is an enormously complicated subject.

“We should be procuring certain things within Ashfield, within Nottinghamshire, within the East Midlands, and anywhere in the world that makes sense, but different things are made in different places and we should be somewhat more nuanced.”

Coun Zadrozny will now put forward the council’s view as part of the government’s Transforming Public Procurement Green Paper.

The consultation phase for the review into procurement law ends in early March.