Outrage as top council official wins contract

editorial image

Outrage has been expressed after a top official at the local council won a four-figure sum of public money for a photography contract.

After bids were invited by the council for a ‘photography commission’ to produce 100 “promotional images” of the Limavady Borough, a recommendation was approved at a recent Development Services meeting to award £1,890 of public money to Paul Beattie Photography for the work. Paul Beattie is the Development Services Manager at Limavady Borough Council. The project is 75 per cent funded by the Rural Development Programme. Paul Beattie is listed as one of three council staff members to contact regarding the rural development programme on the Limavady Borough Council website.

Paul Beattie Photography won the contract after scoring the highest on a number of selection criteria and coming in at a lower price than bids from rival photographers.

Professional photographers in the local area say they are outraged. One photographer wrote to the Chief Executive during the submission period to point out the fact that a council employee was being invited to bid for the photography commission, asking: “Is this normal council procedure?”

The Sentinel recently wrote to Limavady Borough Council to ask a total of five questions regarding the award of the photography contract to a high-ranking council official, including whether Paul Beattie was involved in the decision making process surrounding the photography commission. The five questions asked of Limavady Borough Council by the Sentinel were: “How was the decision taken to commission 100 promotional images of the Limavady Borough?

“How was the photographic commission advertised?

“Which department and/or departments at Limavady Borough Council oversaw the selection process after submissions were received?

“What is the role of the successful applicant, Paul Beattie, in this/these department(s)?

“How were the selection criteria for the photographic commission decided upon?

“Was the successful applicant involved in any way in the entire decision making process surrounding the photography commission?

“Does Limavady Borough Council perceive a conflict of interests with a council employee being awarded a contract by council?”

A spokesperson for the council replied: “Limavady Borough Council and Rural Development Partnership procurement procedures were followed and decisions and approvals were made by the Rural Development Partnership board.”