A need is identified by the budget-holder. If necessary, Member approval is gained prior to presenting the need to the market.
The budget-holder is governed by Council rules called the Constitution. The specific rules relating to the purchasing process are contained in Part 6 - Rules of Procedure (Other) - Section 6 Standing Orders Relating to Purchasing, Procurement, Contracts and Disposals and can be briefly summarised as follows:
if the value of the work, product or service required is less than £5,000 the budget-holder can place an order directly with a supplier of his or her choice, having satisfied themselves that the purchase represents value for money for the Council
if between £5,000 and £40,000, then the budget-holder must invite at least three written quotations
if more than £40,000, a full sealed tender process must be undertaken with the requirement being publicly advertised in the local press and nationally in suitable trade journals as appropriate
if the contract is likely to exceed the European Union Procurement Directive thresholds (£173,934 for supplies and services, and £4,348,350 for works) the procurement process must follow the Directive's rules and be advertised throughout the European Union via the OJEU (Official Journal of the European Union). The requirement would also then be advertised locally as well as in trade journals if this were felt to be appropriate.