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Council tenders and contracts


Helping you to sell to us

Future business opportunities will appear on the Kent Business Portal which covers local authorities throughout Kent.

We are continually looking to improve commercial flexibility within our procurement practices and to achieve the best value for our organisation while working within statutory and EU requirements. Local suppliers are particularly encouraged to tender and quote for our business wherever possible, either directly or indirectly as a sub-contractor to a larger company.

Although we are keen to support local businesses and small and medium enterprises, we are also bound to place contracts that are most economically advantageous. This means that we take into account factors such as total lifetime cost, quality, technical capability, after sales service and innovative ideas, as well as track records of service and financial stability. This does not mean we always buy from the cheapest supplier.

Corporate procurement

Corporate procurement describes the contracts and orders the council places with businesses and suppliers. Orders and contracts can range in value from a few hundred pounds to millions. Details of the council's spending with suppliers can be found on our transparency pages.

In order to get the best value for money, a significant part of our procurement is carried out under direct contract. Some procurement is undertaken under joint or consortium arrangements. Many contracts, particularly for services, cover periods of more than one year.

Our searchable contracts register provides information about the contracts the council (and other local authorities) have in place.

Financial thresholds

Most contracts are awarded after competition. Financial thresholds govern the types of approach that can be taken. The current thresholds are:

Contract value (total lifecycle cost1)Procedure
Less than £15,000 two quotations required, at least one of which must be from a local supplier where possible
£15,000 - £99,999 three quotations required, at least one of which must be from a local supplier where possible
£100,000 - OJEU full tendering process conducted via Kent Business Portal
On or above OJEU threshold fully compliant OJEU process

1. Total lifecycle cost relates to the annual value of the contract, multiplied by the total number of years (inclusive of extensions).

Types of contracts

Some of the different types of contracts:

  • Ad hoc contract - a contract to satisfy a definite, one-off requirement for either products or services is normally used for higher value or complex contracts that necessitate a tendering exercise to take place and/or the use of special terms and conditions.
  • Framework agreement / call-off contract (or framework arrangement, standing arrangement, or standing offer) - a framework agreement provides for the supply of products or services over a given time period. It is not in itself a contractual agreement to supply, but is an enabling agreement providing agreed specifications, delivery terms, prices and terms and conditions of contract. Once a framework agreement is in place, individual purchase orders can be placed against it under the agreed terms and conditions. The orders, once placed (ie accepting the terms of the standing offer), are contractual. Framework agreements do not specify definite quantities of goods or services that will be ordered against it, although indicative quantities are normally provided. Framework agreements are normally used to set up general supply arrangements with a supplier (eg use of a suppliers catalogue), or to set up central supply arrangements for use by local operational areas.
  • Service and maintenance contracts  - the two basic contract types above can be used to deliver both goods and services, although the content (eg terms and conditions) is often quite different. Maintenance contracts are essentially service contracts (eg total maintenance cover for a fixed period) or call-off contracts / framework arrangements (eg maintenance cover available on an 'as required' basis, for example, if breakdown occurs).
  • Capital works contracts - capital works contracts are used for large-scale construction projects. These contracts are generally highly complex and involved.
  • Leasing vehicles, plant and equipment - leasing contracts are sometimes used for this type of item.
  • Public private partnerships - these contracts are complex and extremely high value (over £5 million). They allow the public sector to benefit from private company investment.

Rules and regulations

The standard terms and conditions for doing business with Tunbridge Wells Borough Council are available on request, please contact the procurement team

The rules and regulations governing our procurement activities are outlined below.

Advertising rules

If a contract to be tendered exceeds a fixed amount laid down by the EU, it must be advertised in the Official Journal of the European Union (OJEU). The thresholds are:

  • £189,330 for products and services
  • £4,733,252 for works and concessions
  • £663,540 for light touch regime procurements

There are two parts to the advertisement:

  1. Contract notice - a contract notice is effectively the European equivalent of the advertisement that would be placed in the UK press seeking tenders or applicants to a select list of tenderers. It is based on a standard format laid down in the EU procurement directives.
  2. Award notice - within 48 days of an award of a contract (which had a contract notice published in the OJEU), an award notice must be put in the OJEU declaring the name of the successful tenderer.

Full details of our current EU notices and awards are published on the information system for European public procurement.


Suppliers bidding for our work will find that conditions of contract and specifications will incorporate European standards and regulations. British Standards and regulations will only apply where no other international standards and regulations exist.

Contract procedure rules

These rules can be accessed in part 4 of the Council's constitution. The key issues included are:

  • compliance
  • tendering procedure
  • exceptions
  • nominated sub contractors and suppliers
  • receipt, opening and acceptance of tenders
  • form and authorisation of contracts
  • bonds and guarantees
  • corrupt gifts

Health and safety rules for suppliers and contractors

We need all suppliers and contractors to have a comprehensive health and safety policy suitable for the needs of the work being undertaken. For some, this will include providing risk assessments and method statements for all work that is to be carried out.

Codes of conduct

All council employees must abide by a code of conduct. Employees must declare their interests in existing or potential suppliers and say if the connection is a private, social, domestic or professional one. This also applies to Members (local councillors) who are also governed by a strict code of conduct. The following information is a summary of the common elements in the way we conduct business with suppliers:


Councillors and employees must make known in writing all relationships of a business or private nature with existing suppliers or potential suppliers. Orders and contracts must be awarded on merit and no special favour will be shown to businesses in which employees have a financial interest or which are run by, for example, friends, partners or relatives. If they have such an interest they must not be involved in any way in awarding any work or orders.

Personal/business interests

Councillors and employees must declare in writing any financial or non-financial interests that they consider could bring about conflict with their employer's interests. An employee must tell their immediate supervisor in writing if they become aware that their employer is entering a contract in which they have a direct financial interest. This does not apply if they hold a comparatively small number / value of shares in a national company.

Employees must exercise fairness and impartiality when dealing with all customers, suppliers, other contractors and sub-contractors.

Employees becoming privy to confidential information on tenders or costs for either internal or external contractors must not pass it to any unauthorised party or organisation.

Employees must make sure that no special favour is shown to current or recent former employers, employees or their partners, close relatives or associates in awarding contracts to businesses run by them or employing them in a senior or relevant managerial capacity.


Councillors and employees must make sure that they (or any other member of their family) do not become involved in any conflict of interest in carrying out their duties. They must not, either directly or indirectly, accept any gift, reward or benefit from any member of the public or any organisation with whom they are brought into contact by reason of their duties other than:

  1. Modest gifts or gifts of a promotional nature, eg calendars, diaries and other similar articles.
  2. Gifts at the end of any courtesy visit to a factory or firm of a sort normally given by that firm.

Any other gifts offered or delivered will be returned with a polite explanation.


Councillors and employees will exercise discretion in offering and accepting modest hospitality. The criteria which determine whether hospitality from suppliers can be accepted include:

  • whether the invitation comes from a supplier likely to benefit from the goodwill of the organisation or from a charity or other organisation that does not have the same interest in the outcome
  • whether the firm is seeking a contract, or one has already been awarded
  • whether the visit is genuinely instructive or constitutes more of a social function
  • the scale and location of hospitality and whether it falls within working hours
  • the frequency of the hospitality

It is always a matter of judgement and common sense. Suppliers should always think carefully before offering hospitality.