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Council defends continental bins contract

A council has defended itself from criticism over the award of a multimillion-pound wheelie bin contract.

Durham County Council has come under attack in the local press for ordering 225,000 “twin bins” from a supplier with manufacturing plants in Germany and France despite a British firm submitting a £250,000 lower bid.

John Shuttleworth, an independent local councillor, told the local newspaper: “We are trying to support British jobs. This is not fair and it is not right. We have a moral duty to try to maintain jobs in the county, region and country.”

The council says it took into account quality considerations as well as price. A leaked memo obtained by the Northern Echo shows the £4.2m winning bid by Leicestershire and Maastricht-based ESE scored significantly higher in the council’s “quality assessment”.

The assessment included testing the bins fitted the council’s RCVs and the supplier’s ability to deliver on time. ESE scored 93.1% against the other contractors’ scores between 63.9% and 75.6%.

Darren Knowd, Durham’s corporate procurement manager,told the Press Association: “The council has followed a rigorous procurement exercise following all EU regulations and clearly set out how the contract would be awarded. This was a high-value contract and it was made very clear to suppliers during the tender process that it would not be awarded on price alone as it was important the council had confidence that the winning bidder could meet all of the council’s requirements.

“Taking into account both the price and quality requirements of the project, the winning bidder produced the best all-round offer which provided the council with greater assurance that the project would be satisfactorily completed.

“The council is very committed to providing opportunities for the local business community and works hard in this regard, with over 55% of contracts going to North East companies, and it is important to note that the council is not allowed legally to favour UK companies.”

The losing bidders were MGB Plastics, SSC Schaefer, and Straight. No one was available to comment from any of the companies involved.  

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