Local contractor loses council support

By Paul Hemsley

Locally-based telecommunications company, Luxfield Communications has expressed disappointment at a council process for a project quote in selecting a contractor.

The Queensland-based Bundaberg Regional Council sent a quote out in November 2011 for a new telephone system upgrade to the Bargara office (formerly the Burnett Shire Council administration complex), where local businesses such as Luxfield Communications were considered.

However, the project will be managed by Brisbane-based reseller, UXC Connect, which supplies from vendors such as Cisco and Alcatel.

The original system supplied from Luxfield Communications was equipment from Aastra and Ericsson.

Bundaberg Regional Council CEO, Peter Byrne said Luxfield’s price was $177000 and UXC’s was $105000, so it was a cost related decision.

“We went out under the local buy system, plus we invited two extra locals as part of that and there were two firms locally that put in, Luxfield and another one,” Mr Byrne said.

Mr Byrne told Government News the Ericsson systems are still in other buildings, with several buildings in the regional area, but that area was failing so it was decided to go out for quotations.

Luxfield Communications was also responsible for maintaining the council’s phone systems, but Mr Byrne was unable to confirm if the company will continue to do so.

Luxfield Communications managing director, Keith Baldwin said he was “shocked and disappointed” that council was sending its business away from the region.

Mr Baldwin said the telephone system replacement process started as a request for a quote last year, but Luxfield Communications has only answered the one question sent from the council about its reply to the request for quotation.

“We have not had any further communication from council IT staff,” Mr Baldwin said.

In late March, Mr Baldwin sent an email to the IT manager inviting the council to join an Aastra Solidus Call Centre user group, but was informed via a return email that the council had made a decision to replace the existing telephone system at Bargara with Alcatel.

According to Mr Baldwin, instead of upgrading what the council already has with Luxfield’s upgrade solution, it is buying a completely new system as a total replacement solution.

Referring to the difference in costings offered, Mr Baldwin told Government News to do a total new system replacement cheaper than the existing system upgrade, the council must be buying components and putting them together themselves and using internal labour and internal costings.

“There’s no way in the world you can replace the whole system cheaper than upgrading the existing system,” Mr Baldwin said.

According to a Luxfield Communications release, the company was not consulted as to why the council had made the decision to take its business out of the region.

Mr Baldwin said he doubts his company will still be doing any work for the council.

“Once they replace the brand names that we represent, which was the old Ericsson, which is now Aastra, they won’t need to call us or involve us at all,” Mr Baldwin said.

He said his company did a lot of the council’s networking when it amalgamated, put all the shires and city councils together, and engineered them coming together.

“[But] as they’ve become smarter internally, they’ve begun to administer it themselves and grown their internal IT department, and they think if they buy an IT product, and it’s all plug and play, nothing can go wrong, and no need for external contractors,” Mr Baldwin said.

He said Luxfield Communications maintained the council’s system as well as some of the smaller systems around the region in the council’s pre-amalgamation.

“We’re still there maintaining the smaller ones but it looks like the plan is to roll out this new Alcatel one all around the region and they will supposedly do it in-house and save money.

“Then the local people like us that survive by doing maintenance on our brand of telephone system, our work flow ceases,” Mr Baldwin said.

He said if the council was going to go to market for supposedly over $150000 to replace it, they would put out an official tender and all the parties would be advised of it.

“It’s just the process, there’s no visibility, we weren’t told anything about the decision making when it was to be made, they made a decision to purchase out-of-town when they promote local,” Mr Baldwin said.

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