Who can use the right to challenge?
All community groups who meet the definitions at paragraphs 1.4 – 1.15 of the Government guidance. These include voluntary and community organisations; charities; parish councils; and council employees.
How does a community group trigger a procurement exercise?
A group must submit a written expression of interest to:
Head of Legal and Democratic Services
St Edmundsbury Borough Council
West Suffolk House
Bury St Edmunds
Suffolk, IP33 3YU
Expressions of interest should include the information set out in Section 4 of the Government guidance
When can groups submit expressions of interest?
For council services that are currently run directly by council staff, expressions of interest can be made at any time.
For council services that are currently run under contract by other organisations, the council will publish timescales for the submission of expressions of interest in due course.
What will the council do once it has received an expression of interest?
Council staff will look at the expression of interest and check that it meets the Government's requirements for valid expressions of interest and does not meet any of the grounds for rejection of expressions of interest see section 6 of the Government guidance.
The council will contact the group to let them know a date by which it will have reached a final decision on whether the expression of interest will trigger a procurement exercise. If a contract is already in place for the service, a response will be given to the group within 30 days of the end of the specified timeframe for receipt of expressions of interest (see previous question). If the service is not currently contracted out, a response will be given within 30 days of receiving the expression of interest.
The process of considering the expression of interest to decide whether or not it is acceptable will depend on the size and complexity of what is proposed. The maximum time the council will take to reach a decision on an expression of interest is 6 months, but we would expect most to be decided more quickly.
If the council believes that the expression of interest could be accepted with some modifications, the group will be contacted to discuss whether those modifications are acceptable. If an expression of interest is accepted by the council, a procurement exercise will begin after a period of between 1 and 6 months, depending on the size and complexity of the service. This is to allow time for the council to formulate and agree a specification for the service to be provided.
If an expression of interest is rejected, the council will write to the community group giving its reasons and will also published the notification on the website.
Are any council services excluded from the right?
Certain things that a council does must remain the responsibility of the elected members and their officers. These functions are set out in legislation and include things such as the determination of planning applications and the monitoring of the council's activities from the point of view of probity and propriety. However, the processing work that accompanies these functions could be carried out by a third party and so the community right to challenge could be exercised in these areas. Further information is given in section 2 of the Government guidance.
Does the group exercising the right have any advantage in the procurement exercise?
No. Once the procurement exercise has started, all bids will be considered on their merits and the exercise carried out in line with procurement law. Where can I find out more information? More detailed information on what the Right involves is included in the regulations and Government guidance which can be found in the "related downloads" section at the bottom of this page. The Government's Community Rights website may also be helpful in giving examples of community groups getting involved in the running of services.
If you would like to speak to someone about submitting an expression of interest, please contact the Head of Neighbourhood Management and Development on 01284 757002 or email email@example.com.