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Bonkers Blog September 2011

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11 September (Part 2) - It’s not what you know…

SE London Chamber of Commerce logoI went to a Chamber of Commerce meeting a little while ago, just out of curiosity to see what the inside of the Thames Innovation Centre was like. The people there were all keen to do business with Bexley council but it is not easy to get a foot in the door. The rules and regulations make life difficult for small businesses, Bexley council makes them jump through many hoops. I’m not saying that is wrong, they have their reasons but because of them small businesses aren’t very likely to land jobs in the up to £35,000 range. Above that it’s the big league of public advertising and tendering, so even less chance. It doesn’t help that Bexley council only spends 10% of its budget within the borough. So local business has a hard time even though I saw no evidence that Bexley council’s procurement departments were going out of their way to be difficult. On the other hand Bexley doesn’t insist that when it seeks quotations one must come from within the borough as it was claimed Lewisham does.

Did you know that the founder of the firm Capita which is contracted to Bexley council for tax collection was a Mr. Rod Aldridge? (Bear with me; there is a Capita link to the subject of contracts being hard to come by, or should that be easy to come by?) When he left Capita in 2006, he set up The Aldridge Foundation, and who works there, none other than councillor Peter Craske. Nothing whatsoever wrong with that of course.

Hidden away among the refreshment bills for June was one labelled ‘Miscellaneous Expenditure’ and paid to a company called The Adding Value Maths Consultancy Ltd. Something to do with education then, although Bexley council itself could do with a bit of help now and again when it comes to figures. The sum involved was a nice round £3,500.

Companies House records show the company has been registered for a whole seven and a bit months and further probing reveals that it really got under way only in March this year when Tomris Ibrahim (it’s female. You should have known that!) took over as director. Until then she had worked for Capita for five years and Croydon council for the five years before that. Guess who was the big cheese there at the same time, no other than our very own Will Tuckley.

Given how the Chamber of Commerce were struggling to get any work out of Bexley council at all and it was all taking far too much time anyway, I think Mrs. Ibrahim should be congratulated on jumping through innumerable hoops and landing a contract with Bexley council only a month or so after starting her company. (The payment was in June and Bexley is not a quick payer; the job must have been obtained within about a month of starting the company.)

The same sum went to the same Maths Consultancy in July too. These Chamber of Commerce chaps must be really rather wimpy if they can’t do the business with Bexley council.


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