COUNCIL bosses have come under fire after a £1.2m maintenance contract to look after the heating and ventilation of buildings including as Largs Campus and the Vikingar! went to a company in Hertfordshire.

North Ayrshire Council had to seek a contractor to repair and take care of the heating, ventilation and air-conditioning units in its buildings - but handed the work to a firm based 400 miles away.

Conservative Tom Marshall has criticised the decision to award the contract to a company outwith the area, saying it should have been split up to allow smaller local businesses to have a chance of benefitting.

The tender required a firm to handle approximately 300 non domestic buildings including schools, leisure centres, sheltered housing units, museums and civic halls throughout the region, ensuring the units are maintained to an acceptable and safe standard.

The council cabinet have rubber-stamped the move to approve the three year contract to BAM (Facilities Management) Limited of Hemel Hempstead in England - with an option to extended by an additional two years.

The total value of the overall contract is £1,190,000.

Mark Boyd, head of NAC finance, said: "The contract notice attracted 24 expressions of interest, of which five submitted a tender response.

"The contract notice did not attract any expressions of interest from local bidders and attracted one expression of interest from a pan Ayrshire bidder.

"Regular maintenance and repair of the heating, ventilation and air-conditioning systems will ensure we are delivering best value in terms of running costs and maintenance as well as reducing their environmental impact."

Conservative councillor Tom Marshall said: "The problem with some of these public sector contracts is that they are bundled together in such a way that they are too large for local companies.

"It might have been better if the council had split the opportunity as it is for 300 non domestic buildings throughout North Ayrshire.

"It should have been split geographically or by the type of building, as under these circumstances, smaller companies in the local area could have been in a position to put in a bid for it.

"It goes against the grain of the community wealth building concept that North Ayrshire Council has been promoting.

"More effort should have been made to try and ensure some of the £1.2m spend could have stayed in the local area."