A COUNCIL has been criticised for awarding a multi-million pound wheelie bin contract to a German firm – despite a British company coming in with a quote which was £250,000 cheaper.
Durham County Council will spend £4.2m on 225,000 “twin bins” from a German supplier, which will allow it to introduce fortnightly collections next year.
The switch from weekly collections will save the Labour-run authority around £1m a year, but the change comes in defiance of the coalition Government’s wishes.
The council must save around £150m and faces losing 1,600 staff, yet it still awarded the contract to a German supplier, despite the cheaper offer from a British rival.
It claimed price alone was not the deciding issue, and European rules meant it could not favour a UK supplier.
Doretta Cocks, of the Campaign for Weekly Waste Collection, opposed the move to a fortnightly service, adding: “It beggars belief. At this time, British companies should be supported rather than European ones.”
Darren Knowd, the council’s corporate procurement manager, said: “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 that 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 per cent of contracts going to North-East companies and it is important to note that the council is not allowed legally to favour UK companies.”