Peace Bridge fury

A war of words has erupted over the opening of the Peace Bridge after it has emerged that a number of key services will be undertaken by firms outside the city.

Catering for the event, to the tune of £10,000, will be provided by a company from Portadown, event management has been provided by a Belfast firm and a Belfast photographer has been tasked to take PR pictures of the event.

Several local companies contacted the Derry Journal this week to register what they describe as ‘disgust’ at the decisions made by Ilex.

Local SDLP MLA Pat Ramsey says questions need to be asked of Ilex. “Many businesses in the City are no doubt concerned as to the prospect for income from the City of Culture if this is how processes for services – tendered and untendered – within Ilex are sought.

“Everyone rightly understand that we should be making good use of public money, but I fail to see how we are doing that when funds to be used to the regeneration of this constituency are being awarded to firms from elsewhere

“If a tender document was deliberately made too complex for small local businesses to compete for, then serious questions need to be asked as to the intentions of Ilex.”

A spokesperson for Ilex said that all invitations to tender must comply with procurement guidelines and are subject to scrutiny by EU auditors.

“Six companies were invited to tender for the lunch in the Guildhall on June 25th, four of which are Derry-based. Only one of the four Derry companies submitted a tender. A second invitation to tender was issued to cater for staff working on events throughout the weekend of June 25th and 26th. Six Derry companies were invited to tender but none of them submitted. That particular invitation to tender was re-issued to a further six companies, two of which are in Derry. Again, neither of the two Derry companies applied.

“The event management role was offered to nine companies within Northern Ireland, London and Dublin. There are no dedicated event management companies in Derry who specialise in a large, outdoor event of this nature. We did not advertise the tenders as we had limited time and newspaper adverts cost money, money that would have been subtracted from the budget we need to provide services on the ground.”

Derry companies will be providing the stewarding, production, fireworks, communications, site services, performers, promotional goods (t-shirts etc) and taxis.