Jun 22 2012 by Jennifer Buchanan, Ayrshire Post (main ed)
AN AYRSHIRE company lost out on a major contract to build engines for Strathclyde Fire and Rescue to a company south of the border.
The £1 million deal to build 10 brand new tenders was awarded to a Surrey company after the bid from Emergency One in Cumnock was rejected by councillors on Strathclyde Fire Board.
Instead they opted to go with John Dennis Coachbuilders in Surrey, despite the local company achieving 98 per cent in the tender scoring process.
Members from across Ayrshire are among the 34 members of the board.
And among those who voted to reject the Cumnock bid is Labour Councillor Neil McGhee, whose own Ballochmyle ward is next door.
Carrick, Cumnock and Doon Valley MSP Adam Ingram has slammed Labour board members, accusing them of voting en masse to send the contract south of the border.
He spoke out after the board agreed by 19 votes to eight to reject an SNP amendment to give the contract to Emergency One, which employs around 120 skilled workers and trains around 30 apprentices at the base in Caponacre industrial estate.
Mr Ingram said: “Thanks to local elected Labour members, including Neil McGhee as a representative for East Ayrshire Council, Cumnock and the surrounding area have lost out on the £1,051,550 contract.
“This significant investment would have been a major boost to the local economy ensuring Emergency One could expand their business and create new jobs.
“I do not believe that such a minimal difference in the score should have outweighed the obvious gains to be made in community benefits and indeed, reducing the carbon footprint of appliance and other movements between Scotland and Surrey.”
But Councillor McGhee accused the SNP of political posturing because they didn’t have the numbers to pass the motion, and therefore wouldn’t have to deal with the legal problems caused by their amendment.
He insisted that he followed the only legal option and could only have objected if there had been a discrepancy in the tendering process.
Councillor McGhee said: “I am passionate about my area and if I felt Emergency One could have got the contract I would have voted against awarding the contract to John Dennis.
“It’s very frustrating that we couldn’t give it to them.”
Ayr West Councillor Bill Grant is also a member of the Strathclyde Fire Board and echoed his disappointment at the board’s inability to find a way to keep the contract in Ayrshire.
He added: “The difference in unemployment rates in Surrey compared to Cumnock is vast and it’s a shame that we couldn’t keep the contract here.
“Emergency One are a UK wide company and are a jewel in the crown of Cumnock.”
No-one at Emergency One wished to comment on the decision.
A spokesman for Strathclyde Fire and Rescue said: “Strathclyde Fire & Rescue has confirmed that this contract was awarded following a fair and transparent tender process, as laid down by European Union procurement rules.”