The procedure of an open procurement process for a pilot community intervention service in the city has been welcomed by members of Derry City and Strabane District Council.
A majority of councillors voted to proceed with the procurement of the six month Community Crisis Intervention Service (CCIS) pilot at the council’s monthly meeting on Thursday.
This was despite misgivings raised by independent members, who said more details were needed on the proposed service.
Sinn Féin Councillor Sandra Duffy, however, said her party was pleased to see movement on what’s considered a much needed service.
“We’re glad to see movement on it, and we look forward to this vital service actually being piloted across the city.
“It would no doubt have been better if more money had been made available by the statutory agencies to allow the pilot to last longer and be more in depth.
“We’d hope that with the pilot starting we will continue meeting with the statutory agencies involved and that through those meetings more funding can be found to extend the pilot and to allow it to be fully evaluated.”
Colr. Duffy added: “There are very vulnerable people in our city who have been looking for this service.”
SDLP Colr. Brian Tierney said his party was also pleased to see the procurement process moving forward finally.
He explained how, at a recent Health and Communities Committee meeting, the SDLP had asked for a report to be prepared with more detail on how the service will operate but said it was correct to proceed with the procurement process now.
“We welcome this,” said Colr. Tierney. “We do have some concerns regarding the workings and how it’s going to be rolled out but at the committee we asked for a report to be brought back after the procurement process was brought out.”
Independent Councillor Paul Gallagher, however, called for a deferral of the procurement process.
“There was a long list of issues that were raised at that [H&C Committee] meeting and none of them appear to have been addressed,” he said.
The issues raised included concerns over proposed funding for the service, the pilot’s six month timescale, concerns over the potential lack of after care, and a lack of detail about what agencies are involved.
“We need to get it right. If we go down the road of having a pilot we will get it wrong without that list being addressed properly. We’ve been waiting for years on this. We could wait just another little while and get them addressed properly with the buy-in of all those various groups that need to buy into it if this is going to be successful,” said Colr. Gallagher.
Colr. Gary Donnelly agreed, stating: “It’s not just a pilot scheme. It’s very, very important. You wouldn’t ask a builder to build a house without seeing the plans.”
Colr. Darren O’Reilly described it as the most important issue to have come before the council to date but a proposal to defer the procurement fell, and an advert will be lodged next month.