Communities gear up to bid to take on Bradford Council services under new scheme

Working arrangements are being drawn up to manage the Community Right to Challenge scheme which will give communities the opportunity to bid to take over Bradford Council services they believe they can run better.

Under the Localism Act, the right to challenge was introduced earlier this year, giving a legal right for certain organisations, such as voluntary or community groups, or town and parish councils, to express an interest in running a service provided by a local authority.

The Council may reject a formal expression of interest, but only within certain guidelines. And if the initial bid is accepted, an open procurement exercise must be undertaken.

A new report details how a steering group has already been set up to help develop a local challenge scheme, which will include a transparent administration process to ensure expressions of interest are dealt with effectively and a development programme to prompt innovative approaches to service delivery models and service improvement.

The executive has already agreed to different schedules of notification periods for specific services, as well as a generic notification window each year from April 1 to June 30. This will allow decisions to be integrated with the annual budget cycle at the Council.

It will also mean that eligible groups and organisations can express an interest in running services.

In a report on the scheme, Mary Weastell, the Council’s strategic director of business report, says: “The Council may only reject an expression of interest on the grounds specified in the guidance: it does not comply with the requirements specified in the act or in regulations; information provided through the EOI (expression of interest) is inadequate or inaccurate; the service is already the subject of a procurement exercise; the Council judges that the body submitting the EOI is not suitable to run the service because it does not have the financial resources, is unable to participate in a procurement process, or does not have qualified or approved staff; the Council has entered into negotiations with a third party for provision of the service, where the negotiations are at least in part conducted in writing.”

The Telegraph & Argus reported last month that working arrangements giving people the chance to bid for buildings and land to keep them in community use had been agreed by the Council.

The community right to bid requires local authorities to maintain a register of assets of community value which have been nominated by residents.

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