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Belfast Live
Belfast Live
Michael Kenwood

Belfast councillors burst £70,000 giant bubble idea

A plan for a £70,000 giant bubble in Belfast, lasting for five days during the Maritime Festival, has been burst at Belfast Council.

At the May monthly meeting of the full Belfast City Council, the last meeting before the May 18 local elections, elected representatives refused a recommendation made by council officers to approve a “single tender action” named in an officer report on contracts.

Councillors unanimously agreed to drop a plan for a five day contract for up to £70,000, awarded to Atelier Sisu for the acquisition of a 'unique Giant Bubble Art Installation' as part of the Belfast Maritime Festival this year.

Read more: Belfast city centre Frederick Douglass statue finally gets planning green light

The council’s Strategic Policy and Resources Committee report states in its entirety on the contract: “The Festival Board decided that the unique design was best fitting to enhance the festival in an international setting with lots of social network opportunities to showcase Belfast’s most iconic landmarks and enhance the ambience and curiosity around Belfast’s Maritime Event offering.”

Councillors had originally deferred the matter until after the May elections, but councillors decided to agree to a proposal by Sinn Féin Councillor Ronan McLaughlin to refuse the recommendation.

He told the chamber: “Most people on the Strategic Policy and Resources Committee would know this is a bugbear of mine and my party - that single tender actions are almost rolled out, in our opinion without proper process.

“If you look at what we have done in this city over the past year, whether it be a one million pound fuel poverty fund, where we made citizens of this city jump through hoops to prove that they were in need - then look at what we would have done with this. It would have been to award a company up to £70,000 on the stroke of a pen.

“It certainly is not how we believe things should be done in this city. Into the future, and in the next term, my party is going to be monitoring this very closely - that is how we manage single tender actions and how we manage our contractual agreements."

During the meeting elected representatives did green light other single tender actions. They included a contract for up to £100,000, for six months, awarded to MCS Group, for Environmental Health Officers and Technical Support Officers to cover for 24 hour shift rotas cover “for essential service delivery” within the Port Health Service - among the responsibilities of these contracted workers are the Irish Sea border Brexit checks trade checks.

Councillors also approved a 12 month contract for up to £2.3m, awarded to Bryson Recycling for the provision of kerbside collections and treatment services for recyclable materials, and a £435,000 catering contract (i.e. café and small events) at Malone House, for up to 10 months.

Members also approved a three month contract of £59,915 awarded to Energy Systems Catapult, for the delivery of a feasibility study on the Net Zero Belfast initiative.


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