Mid and East Antrim Borough Council has become the first council in Northern Ireland to fully utilise a scheme, spearheaded by a local social enterprise, which requires prospective procurement sub-contractors from across the electrical industry to be suitably qualified, regulated and insured before entering the supply chain.
Ballymena-based SparkSafe connects clients to their online Licence to Practise (LtP) system, and said Council was ‘leading the way’ in how it selects, appoints and manages sub-contractors by specifying participation in the scheme within tender and contract documentation.
Over the last three years, many of the large public sector procurement organisations with responsibility for Northern Ireland infrastructure have included the LtP requirement in their pre-contract conditions.
SparkSafe has assisted clients including Health Trusts and the Education Authority, as well as Water and Transport Service authorities in connecting competent and qualified electrical workers to a variety of projects, but this is the first time that a local council has fully embraced the scheme.
Mid and East Antrim Borough Council Chief Executive, Anne Donaghy, said: “Council is delighted to announce this new partnership with a local not-for-profit organisation, SparkSafe, which has been established with a commitment to improving and raising standards within the electrical industry.
“As the first council in Northern Ireland to sign up to the SparkSafe Licence to Practise system, I am confident that this is yet another example of how Mid and East Antrim Borough Council are continuing to support a strong and locally based social enterprise network which is dedicated to ensuring accountability and trust in the way public funds are used.”
SparkSafe criteria have been included within Council’s latest capital project tender for the Kells Pavilion main contractor, meaning there is independent validation of the electrical workers on this scheme, and ensuring all personnel are appropriately qualified.
The inclusion of the initiative will benefit Council as this quality assurance of the workforce delivering the project will ensure Council receives a high quality asset at the end of the construction period, resulting in less maintenance costs and a longer life cycle for the building.
SparkSafe LtP CEO, Derek Thompson, said: “Mid and East Antrim Borough Council are raising the quality improvement bar on how they select, appoint and manage electrical subcontractors on behalf of local ratepayers by specifying the SparkSafeLtP system.
“The Council is leading the way in eliminating a common age-old client blind spot that exists around the occupational identity, competence and qualifications of individual supply chain electrical workers.”
Based in Ballymena Business Centre, SparkSafe is a registered Charitable Trust which is overseen by a voluntary and unpaid group of SME stakeholders.
The online system requires electrical workers to register for one of three Licence types, namely QE (Qualified Electrician), REW (Restricted Electrical Worker) and AE (Apprentice Electrician), providing client organisations with an effective identity and competency check for any potential subcontractors.