Waste contractor to be appointed as council investigation revealed

THE waste contractor to be appointed to take on the joint waste contract for Wealden District looks set to be ‘Kier’ – despite an internal council investigation launched into the bidding process.

Wealden District Council plans to hand over its public service to a private contractor for waste collection along with partner authorities in Hastings, Rother, and Eastbourne.

Three contractors got through to the final bidding round – Sita, owned by a French company; Biffa, £1.2 billion in debt; and Kier.

Kier, known as ‘Contractor B’, has emerged as the winning contractor, sources tell the Sussex Express, with a tendering sum of £11,973,000 annually, subject to contract.

Wealden believed this would represent savings of £7.7million during the next 10 years.

But it is not clear if this figure anticipates any future rise in costs by the winning contractor, once the contract is officially awarded.

The Sussex Express also understands that information was leaked from a source within Wealden District Council.

This information allegedly revealed details of bids and details submitted by contractors at the beginning of the process which meant one contractor could have had an unfair advantage over the others. An internal investigation by Wealden into the affair has apparently been launched.

Wealden District Cllr Andy Long, has voiced his personal concerns about the overall joint waste strategy which he feared would be eventualy found to be ‘unsound’.

Cllr Long said: “It doesn’t make the bidding process sound when [someone allegedly] leaks information out – who knows where it goes?

“The bidding process looks to be not fair and equivocal – and certainly unsound.”

Council documents seen by the Sussex Express state that one of Wealden District Council’s goals in outsourcing the joint waste contract was to save a minimum of £500,000.

But the same document gives details of costs arising from changing the waste contract.

Eight Garwoods refuse vehicles ordered by Wealden in 2009 originally cost £135,000 per vehicle with a ‘notional book value’ of £77,000 per vehicle.

They will be bought by the winning contractor next April (2013) at a value of £35,000 per vehicle, according to the council report, which added that the ‘notional loss against book value’ was £42,000 per vehicle: an overall £336,000.

The document also said: “There are a number of leased vehicles, including refuse trucks that will not be required by the council following the outsourcing of services.

“Contractor B does not wish to take on these leases and the cost of terminating these leases early is £256,000.

“Whilst different outcomes are being investigated, for the purpose of this report we have included as a worse case the cost of £256,000, annualized over 10 years as £26,000 per annum.”

A Wealden District Council spokesman refused to comment, adding: “All matters appertaining to the award of the Joint Waste Contract are currently confidential.”