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December 13, 2018
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December 20, 2018

How to become a Bristol City Council supplier – notes from November’s Breakfast Forum

On 30th November we hosted our last Breakfast Forum of the year at City Hall. Membership Manager Ian Madle welcomed the group, which included a wide range of businesses from architects to retailers, furniture makers to IT consultants.

MD Diana Finch talked about how Bristol Pound can broker relationships, encouraging businesses to change their trading model to be more Bristol centric, helping create a resilient economy and a fairer, more resilient Bristol.

Businesses join but don’t necessarily use Bristol Pound, which is why we’re working to encourage existing members to look at their supply chains and make a commitment to the city.

Nigel Dyke, Director of Alec French Architects, put it very well at our last Breakfast Forum: “You can run a business using Bristol Pound relatively easily. It’s a mistake to think £B is a niche thing…scaling is possible.”

Diana reminded the room it’s not just about suppliers, but about collaboration – not seeing other people as competition, but as potential partners in making bids to the Council. She said £B are happy to provide a space for this group to get to know and help each other.

How to become a Bristol City Council supplier

Next, we met Jacqueline Miller, who works as Category Lead – Performance & Strategy Development, Procurement and Commercial Solutions for Bristol City Council. She talked about how she’s working to broaden procurement, engaging SME’s to get them into the Council’s supply chain. She said she wants the process to be more accessible and took us through a series of slides explaining how things are changing, and asking for any feedback from small businesses.

The Council have 11,000 suppliers, but don’t have the capacity to manage 11,000 contracts, so Jacqueline explained the different bidding models SME’s can use, including working as a consortium or sub-contractor. With bigger projects, these are often broken down into smaller contracts to make work more accessible to small businesses. She reiterated that the Council are happy to be challenged on any of this, and are working to maximise opportunities, even if they can’t contract directly with a very small business. One of the things they can do is bring smaller businesses together to have conversations with larger organisations about being one of their local suppliers.

Talking about social value, Jacqueline (and later, Councillor Stephen Clarke) said this is becoming increasingly important to the Council, and companies who work to employ local people, pay the Living Wage etc will be looked on more favourably when it comes to awarding contracts.

Finding opportunities – links

Read Jacqueline’s top tips for bidding below:

“There’s a huge opportunity for small businesses”

Next, Councillor Stephen Clarke, £B Founder and Board Member and member of the Council’s Procurement Group spoke about the huge opportunity there is for small businesses. He said there is political will behind spending money with local firms, and appealed to the room to give him direct feedback about ways the Council can make this easier.

Contact Stephen via email.

He closed by saying that the Council want to spend more money in line with their values, inviting businesses to please take advantage of this opportunity to get involved.

Bristol Wood Recycling Project Pecha Kucha

Finally, Ben Moss from Bristol Wood Recycling Project treated us to a Pecha Kucha talk about their journey from a small group of volunteers to a co-operative with employees via a stressful site move due to the Temple Meads Enterprise Zone. BWRP have exciting news – they will be launching a campaign to buy their new William Street site in the New Year! We’ll update our members when it launches.

If you’re a Bristol Pound business member, keep an eye on your Inbox for details of our next Breakfast Forum. If you’re not yet a member but would like to find out more, click here and email us with any queries.

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