Council slammed in contracts row

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News

Tory councillors have called for lessons to be learned in the awarding of millions of pounds worth of contracts.

Their outcry comes after a Bletchley building company challenged the council through the High Court when its tender did not win.

The court ruled in favour of Woods Building Services, who had applied for as multi- million pound contract to remove asbestos from council properties.

MK council was ordered to pay more than £150,000 legal costs after the judge found deficiencies in the way in which the tender was scored under the council’s points system.

Officers have now had to start the asbestos tender process again from scratch.

Last month the Citizen revealed how Labour cabinet members were spending as little as two minutes considering each contract at procurement meetings.

The Tories said this was alarmingly speedy and called for an audit committee investigation.

Conservative leader Edith Bald is now demanding to know the full implication of the asbestos contract fiasco.

She estimates it has left the council severely out of pocket due to wasted time, lost profits and court charges.

“The implications to the council could be up to £1 million,” she told the Citizen.

“I am worried and concerned that this example does not demonstrate proper value for money for taxpayers.

“Clearly there is a failure and the council needs to look into this.

“I think everybody must accept that this is a case from which lessons must be learned.”

Labour leader Pete Marland said his group had strengthened the council’s procurement system to include Living Wage conditions, social value and apprenticeships where possible.

“We have strengthened procedures before meetings so that papers presented at meetings are as strong as can be,” he told the Citizen.

Mr Marland said he would “welcome” the input of the audit committee on the procurement system.Meanwhile Woods has reapplied for the asbestos contract.