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Serco awarded Canterbury waste contract

Canterbury Council has re-awarded its £40m waste contract to Serco after a controversial series of meetings.

MRW reported complaints by opposition councillors earlier this month that elected members had been forced to vote on the contractor bids without knowing the names of the companies involved.

Liberal Democrat and Labour members said the Tory-run Cabinet and council officers did not trust them to keep confidential details of bids.

Bidders’ names were withheld following a campaign to exclude Veolia Environmental Services UK (VESUK) over the activities of firms owned by French parent firm Veolia Environnement in the Middle East. Campaigners say VESUK is complicit in Israel’s illegal occupation of Palestinian land because of waste and transport business activities by firms owned Veolia Environnement.

Council leader John Gibney (Con) told MRW voting on anonymous bids was not normal, but was done to “avoid any suggestion anything was contaminating the selection”.

He said after initially agreeing to join the East Kent Waste Partnership scheme, awarded to Veolia in 2010, the council was advised it could face legal action by third parties, so began the blind procurement process.

Local Palestine rights campaigner Diane Langford said while she welcomed the fact Veolia did not win the contract, she regretted the decision had not been taken on “moral grounds”.

Canterbury Council said from April next year its new waste collection scheme would include fortnightly doorstep collection of glass for the first time and a return to weekly collections of food waste.

Head of Neighbourhood Services, Larissa Laing, said: “This is one of our most high profile contracts providing essential services to our residents. The tender process has allowed us to create a high quality service while achieving excellent value for money for taxpayers.”

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