Council security costs almost double estimates

Derry City & Strabane District Independent Councillor Gary Donnelly. DER2114MC153
Derry City & Strabane District Independent Councillor Gary Donnelly. DER2114MC153

Derry City Council ended up shelling out almost twice their original estimate for security during the City of Culture year, it had emerged.

Information obtained under Freedom of Information (FoI) Act by Independent Derry-Strabane Councillor Gary Donnelly showed that over the period from April 2013 to March 2014 the council paid out £273,718, despite having issued tender approval for just £149,907.

There were also overspends on the projections for the previous three years as well.

Derry City Council said this was down largely to security having to be beefed up in response to the live situation on the ground at various major public events.

Prior to this year, the council had issued one tender a year and the work was secured by Derry’s largest security firm, Estate Services.

This year, however the council instead issued a call for a select list, with three firms chosen: Estate Services, Select Management and Samdec.

Costs for events in the current financial year included £152,204 to Estate Services for the Legenderry Maritime Festival, against an £80,000 tender. Estate Services also provided security for the Queen’s Baton Relay and the Big Lunch, both of which came in on budget.

The cost of security for the MTV Crashes concerts was tendered at £19,152 each night, and went to Estate Services. The Jazz Festival tender went to Select Management and also came in on budget for the £320 quoted.

Colr. Donnelly tried to raise the FoI details at a recent meeting of Derry City & Strabane District Shadow Council, but was stopped from speaking after objections were raised that this was a matter not for the city council.

A spokeswoman for Derry City Council said that following numerous public advertisements for Stewarding and Crowd Control for major public events in the city, Estate Services were chosen.

She said: “All applications received through the procurement process were subject to detailed criteria. The successful company, along with emergency services, participates in the public event planning contingency group.

“It was agreed that security and stewarding be stepped up at some events, including the Legenderry Maritime Festival, to assist with the large numbers of people who attended the event.”

Christopher McKnight from Estate Services meanwhile, said that all work commissioned by Derry City Council has to go to tender.

Mr McKnight concurred that the difference between the initial council tender estimate and the end cost was because the council requested additional services and cover at events beyond what they had initially projected.

As a result, where more services and personnel have to be deployed, the costings for an event are increased.

“Every event that is done usually comes in ahead of where it was projected to be. That is the council requesting additional resources. If we win the tender, they tell us what they want us to do and they will phone us if they want extra security somewhere. That is how it works.”

He added that at present Derry City Council had three preferred contractors and that Estate Services had to compete with other providers for tenders for every event staged by council.

“We make no apology for providing work for local people,” Mr McKnight added.