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Bedfordshire’s waste procurement fails

Councillors have wound up the Bedfordshire Energy and Recycling Project (BEaR) over fears the authority might lock itself into a long-term contract it may not be able to afford.

The procurement project included a 25-year contract for residual waste treatment and disposal services.

Two bidding companies - New Earth Solutions Group Limited Consortium and Viridor Waste Management - were in the final tender stage and both had submitted plans that demonstrated long-term savings.

But the council’s executive was warned by officers that short-to-medium-term costs would exceed those in the authority’s latest financial plan.

Councillors heard the authority had serious concerns over its ability to fund the project “when it does not know what its budget position will be”.

A council paper read: “For all local authorities there is now significantly greater volatility in funding than was the case a few years ago. There is currently no indication of any easing of this approach and, along with DCLG having moved to an annual financial settlement, this has created uncertainty about the level of change to future council funding.

A statement from the council said: “The council will now be working hard to develop an alternative proposal with the aim of presenting this to the council’s executive for consideration early in the New Year.

“The work that has been undertaken to date as part of the BEaR Project will ensure that the council can move forward quickly to deliver an alternative waste disposal solution to a similar timescale as originally proposed.”

Robert Ryan, head of projects for Viridor, said: “We have put a great deal of work into this integrated procurement with Central Bedfordshire which started in 2010.  

“We are extremely disappointed with Central Bedfordshire’s decision to abandon the procurement and have now received formal notification of abandonment.”

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