BUSINESSES across Cambridgeshire are being urged to sign up for a new website launched by the county council to advertise public sector contracts worth millions of pounds a year.

Cambridgeshire County Council, which launched the site last week, said 'Source Cambridgeshire' would not only help companies bid for contracts but would provide savings for Cambridgeshire's councils and public services.

The first three bodies to offer work on the site are the county council, Cambridge City Council and Cambridgeshire police.

CCC said the portal was part of its drive to provide opportunities for companies and therefore grow the local economy.

In 2010/11, Cambridgeshire County Council awarded work to 840 small or medium businesses in the county.

The site is a self-service interactive website where Cambridgeshire councils or public services register and place notices of procurement and contract opportunities. Businesses and other organisations can register and receive e-mail alerts for any procurement opportunities in their chosen area of business.

The procurement opportunities can be anything from organisations seeking quotes, to full scale formal EU tender processes.

County council leader Nick Clarke said: "Making it easier for companies and organisations to access and bid for contracts is not only good for business but good for Cambridgeshire public services.

"It means smaller businesses that have fewer resources can be on the same footing as larger ones when it comes to bidding for business from Cambridgeshire public services. We are doing all we can do to help our economy thrive, which in turn means jobs and prosperity for our communities."

Councillor Kilian Bourke, leader of the Liberal Democrat opposition on the county council, said: "This is common practice elsewhere and it is good that the county council is finally following suit.

"It is imperative that the council go as far as possible in terms of hardwiring localism into procurement practice. The current set-up, particularly 'framework contracts', tends to exclude small local businesses from many opportunities.

"If local SMEs can do council work at competitive rates, there is no reason in the world for that work to go elsewhere."

INFORMATION: Source Cambridgeshire can be accessed at www.sourcecambridgeshire.co.uk or on the county council's website www.cambridgeshire.gov.uk