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Only Locate in Kent make a bid for three-year Kent County Council contract for jobs and inward investment

By Chris Price

Contractual wrangles have stalled Kent County Council’s appointment of a company to encourage businesses to set up shop in the county, it has emerged.

Late last year the county council invited bidders for a lucrative three-year deal to work alongside it to boost jobs and investment.

A decision on the successful bidder had been expected in December but now it has emerged that KCC received only one bid and council chiefs felt it it was not acceptable.

Locate in Kent
Locate in Kent

Currently, Locate in Kent, set up in 1997, is the county council’s partner.

A response to a Freedom of Information request submitted by the KM Group, said: “KCC has only received one bid for this contract, which as it stood was not acceptable.

"Under EU rules in this circumstance, KCC can cancel the procurement and enter into trying to achieve a negotiated solution, this has still not been concluded but is expected to be in the next week, the outcome is still unknown.”

The contract is vitally important to KCC’s drive to boost jobs and draw businesses from the UK and abroad to relocate in the county.

Cllr Mike Baldock
Cllr Mike Baldock

Opposition UKIP councillor Mike Baldock said: “This touches on whether KCC’s policy of having such a large contract that very few organisations could bid for is right.”

Backbench councillors have not been briefed on or told about the development, he added.

Locate in Kent helps companies interested in setting up in the county, advising them how to make the most of programmes like Expansion East Kent.

Locate in Kent chief executive Paul Wookey
Locate in Kent chief executive Paul Wookey

It also helps clients search for suitable offices and sites that are available.

A KCC spokesperson said: "We have extended the current contract with Locate in Kent by three months to allow for some loose ends to be tied up. It is hoped that contract negotiations will be successfully completed by that time."

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