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Leeds demands fairer deal for community groups

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Leeds City Council is to ask its suppliers to offer community groups the same discounts that it enjoys from bulk purchasing, potentially saving these organisations thousands of pounds.

Councils can secure cheaper prices from suppliers because of their purchasing power, but small local organisations normally have to pay the full price for goods and services.

Wayne Baxter, Leeds' chief procurement officer, said: "We are asking suppliers to do this voluntarily as a contribution to the community."

Mr Baxter said the council could not compel suppliers to contribute, and neither could it legally refuse to use suppliers who declined to assist voluntary bodies.

The council claims the move heralds one of the first corporate social responsibility policies to be adopted by a council in England.

Other initiatives that are being run include a payroll deduction scheme through which council staff can donate to the Leeds Children's Fund, which works with five to 13-year-olds who have disabilities, or face problems at school or in their family or home life.

Staff will also be encouraged to volunteer to with help environmental, employment and educational projects.

Leader Mark Harris (Lib Dem) said: "We want as many people as possible to benefit from and participate in the Leeds economic miracle."

He added: "As the city's largest employer, it is right that we lead by example, but we also want every business in Leeds to think about how it can help."

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