Email to Officers and Councillors about the ACV / OJEU contradiction

This email was sent to the following officers and  councillors of and advisers to the London Borough of Haringey on 18th August 2015
McGrath Jon <>, Parveen Saheeda <>,,,, Cllr Strickland Alan <>, Cllr Arthur Jason <>, Cllr Doron Natan <>, Sarah Elliott <>
Dear  all,
We are writing to thank the council for the listing of Hornsey Town Hall and Square as an Asset of Community Value, and recognising the importance it has for the community.
We are also delighted to see on your website that “The council will welcome bids to restore, lease and run the Town Hall, together with development of the remaining site, from any interested party – including community groups”.
We are in the process of setting up a Community Interest Company for the purpose of enabling a community response to the sale of the Town Hall.

We are heartened by the Advice Note for Local Authorities on the Community Right to Bid from Department for Communities and Local Government which says that: “During the interim moratorium period a community interest group may request in writing to be treated as a potential bidder for the asset; this will bring the full moratorium period into force. The community interest group does not have to provide any evidence of intention or financial resources to make such a bid (our emphasis).

However, the standard PQQ questions that bidders will be subject to during the OJEU process effectively precludes a community organisation which is unable to provide evidence of financial resources. Further, the PQQ process happens in the first few weeks of the procurement, which effectively closes down a community bid at the first hurdle – in no way giving us 6 months to develop a bid

Therefore, we seek as a matter of urgency, clarification on how the council proposes to reconcile these two statements, and enable us as a community group effective access to the six month moratorium period as expressed in legislation.
a) Can a community interest group be exempt from fulfilling the criteria of the PQQ?
b) Can the procedure be halted either after or prior to publishing on OJEU?

We also have found that the chosen route of a procurement via an OJEU procedure places other obstacles in the path of a credible community bid. Although the council have stated their support, under OJEU rules they cannot offer meaningful help; and secondly, we have found that the council’s position vis-à-vis the OJEU process has also effectively ruled out our gaining funding and support from outside bodies, such as the Architectural Heritage Fund.

Is there any manner in which the council can postpone the OJEU process in order to find solution to these challenges? We want to work productively with the council throughout this process as we believe we can offer an answer to the issues that the council face in terms of their liabilities, and can meet all the stated objectives for the Hornsey Town Hall.

We look forward to an urgent reply on this matter.
Yours etc.

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