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What we buy

We spend around £14 million a year on a wide range of goods and services for the following business areas:

  • refuse collection and grounds maintenance vehicles, equipment and services

  • leisure services including swimming pool, gym and healthy lifestyle related goods and services

  • building and car park maintenance

  • office services including stationery, IT equipment and infrastructure, multifunctional devices, janitorial and other related goods and services.

What we don’t buy

As a district authority we have no responsibility for social care and education. This is the responsibility of Cambridgeshire County Council.

Our former housing stock is owned by a social landlord, Places for People, and they are responsible for all housing maintenance matters.

How we buy

We purchase based on value for money, simplicity and ease of process. The preferred order when we are buying goods and services is:

  1. Framework contracts - these provide a shortlist of proven suppliers within specific categories of goods and services. Provided by the Crown Commercial Service and Pro5 (a group of local authority buying organisations), framework contracts simplify the procurement process, provide keen prices and good terms and conditions. Framework contracts cover a wide range of goods and services used in the public sector.

  2. Catalogue call off. The Eastern Shires Purchasing Organisation provides a catalogue of commonly used goods.

  3. Joint working with partner authorities. Where possible we try to align requirements and specifications with our partner authorities (South Cambridgeshire District Council and Cambridge City Council) in order to combine volumes and reduce administrative effort.

  4. Approved lists. Approved lists are only used in specific categories (such as soil analysis) where the work required to go through the full procurement process would be greater than creating and administering the list.

  5. Going to market directly. Our rules seek to balance the needs of open competition and avoiding unnecessary or disproportionate effort in purchasing. The value of the procurement determines the process:

    • up to £5,000 - a written estimate

    • £5,001 to £25,000 - at least three written estimates

    • £25,001 to £100,000 – an advertised request for quotation

    • £100,001 to EU threshold – an advertised tender

    • above EU threshold - appropriate EU process.

Prompt payment

The council undertakes to:

  • agree payment terms at the outset of any contract

  • not change payment terms retrospectively

  • tell suppliers promptly if there is any reason why an invoice will not be paid to the agreed terms

  • ask prime suppliers to adopt the same terms throughout their own supply chains

  • provide suppliers with clear guidance on payment procedures.

Terms and conditions

When using a framework contract or buying jointly with another authority, their terms and conditions may apply.  Otherwise, we expect to buy our products and services on the basis of our Standard Terms and Conditions [PDF, 0.2MB].

For various contracts these standard terms and conditions may be amended and/or supplemented by specific terms and conditions that relate to that particular contract.

View our Privacy Policy [PDF, 0.1MB]

If you want further information on our procurement processes, please email