Comment: Shop locally message gets lost in tender process

The Flash on the move.
The Flash on the move.

WE’RE all constantly being urged to shop locally, and rightly so but sometimes there’s a lurking suspicion that this is a one way track. 

Such is the suspicion at large in the community after Lithgow Council handed the lease of its property occupied by the Gumnut House childcare centre to a Queensland private company.

Gumnut House has been run by a not for profit organisation and a local parents’ committee for more than 30 years, at first in premises in Read Avenue then later at the present Proto Avenue site.

The operation has represented a considerable investment in time and money and the quality of service was never questioned.

But when the lease was up for renewal council opted for an open tender for the first time. The result is that a Queensland operator got the nod and no doubt the bottom line will rule what parents pay.

Council, at least in a past life, had a policy of preference to local suppliers if there  was no more than a 10 per cent (we think) price difference.

The Queensland bid is worth $88,000 a year for council but the Gumnut operators are not revealing their bid. A spokesperson for the Gumnut management group told the column at the weekend that they were abiding by a commercial in confidence agreement.

“On that basis we were surprised when council made public the other tender,” she said.

For the record the other five childcare centres in the council area are not under similar threat. 

Their real estate is either owned by private companies or by local committees.    

Paint job

THE redevelopment of Cook Plaza continues to move forward and the finished product will no doubt outweigh the unavoidable disruption that is occurring in the meantime. 

But that finished product will be seriously marred unless something is done about the shabby paintwork on the investor-owned buildings each side of the Plaza, including the Post Office. Hopefully someone is on the job on this aspect.

Public risk

THIS week’s memo for council for no other reason than a wish to assist: A couple of weeks back a largish branch snapped off a pine tree adjacent to the car park on the western side of Lithgow’s QE Park. It was still hanging by a thread on Sunday waiting to fall on a vehicle – or worse – in the next storm.