Council in row over waste contract cost

North Lanarkshire Council has rejected contract criticism.
North Lanarkshire Council has rejected contract criticism.

Hard-pressed North Lanarkshire Council is being accused of squandering hundreds of thousands of pounds on a ‘flawed’ recycling contract.

It’s claimed council taxpayers are being shortchanged because the opening hours of potential contractors didn’t meet what was demanded.

However, one bidder said it hadn’t been made aware of changes in time requirements.

The authority invited waste firms to bid for work that involves dealing with thousands of tonnes of bulky household rubbish.

Four of the five firms who responded failed to meet what the council described as ‘basic licensing and technical requirements’.

The contract was subsequently awarded to Viridor Waste Management Limited, the only bidder to meet all criteria.

It will be paid more than £1 million in the two-year deal, but a rival bidder has claimed it could have carried out the work for £300,000 less and complained that the process ‘did not achieve best value for the council’.

That allegation has been dismissed by the council’s scrutiny panel which has ‘approved the process used and the conduct of the evaluation panel’.

The contract is to deal with material gathered through the council’s special uplift service. There are 92,000 requests throughout North Lanarkshire each year from households asking the council to uplift bulky items and this leads to 9,000 tonnes of waste, much of which must be recycled if the council is to meet Government targets.

Kenneth Wilson, the council’s head of environment, dismissed the criticism, saying: “The bidder’s legal representatives entered into a detailed dialogue with the council, challenging the points. The matter was subsequently closed and no formal challenge to the process was lodged.”

Central Scotland MSP Richard Lyle wants the council to look again at contracts if there’s a chance that public money can be saved.

He says it’s imperative the authority ensures ‘best value’ particularly when it is warning of savings elsewhere.

More on this story in the Times & Speaker, out now.