AN ENTREPRENEUR says he is devastated after proposing a business idea to Blackpool Council – only for it to be put out to tender and awarded to a larger firm.
David Smart, of Warley Road, North Shore, was left disappointed when Blackpool Council initially said he could not operate his Icycle Tricycle ice cream business on the Promenade due to a byelaw.
However, after looking at his business plan, town hall bosses put out to tender a scheme to operate three bikes along the 5km of Blackpool’s Promenade, called Icicle Tricycle.
The contract was won by Blackpool Parks, the firm which runs the boats on Stanley Park boating lake, and the kiosks next to the trampolines by Blackpool Sports Centre, at Anchorsholme Park and Gynn Square Pitch and Putt park.
Devastated David – who forked out for one of the bikes after he was told he had to demonstrate he could start the business up within 14 days if he won the contract – called in the Ombudsman to appeal the decision, but Blackpool Council was adjudged to have done nothing wrong.
He said: “I wrote to the council with my business plan.
“I was advised by Estates and Asset Management that it was a very good idea, had not been done before and was worthy of consideration.
“We were so excited and started to put things in motion.
“I can’t understand how they can’t see it is fundamentally wrong what they have done – and could at least have given me the opportunity to trade on a level playing field.
“It feels like they have looked after their own, and stolen my idea.”
But Alan Cavill, assistant chief executive of Blackpool Council, said: “We have an obligation to go out to competitive tender in circumstances such as these.
“The Icicle Tricycle bid went out for tender in May 2011 and a contract was awarded to the company felt to have put together the best bid.
“We carried out this process in the correct way and the report from the Ombudsman confirmed this.
“When we award these types of contracts, they will always go to the company or individual who puts together the best bid.”
Hugh Evans of the Chamber of Trade said: “Business start ups need all the support they can get and they must find it pretty galling.
“The public sector is a huge purchaser of goods and services across the Fylde. We would like to see our start up businesses given a much better crack of the whip.”