Firm faces critics after claiming it had won Gosport council contract

Gosport Borough Council's base, in the town hall
Gosport Borough Council's base, in the town hall
Picture: SWNS

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AN OPPOSITION councillor has criticised a company after it announced it had won a contract days before the council made a final decision.

Novus Property Solutions has now been handed a contract worth around £450,000-a-year to repaint and decorate council homes for the next seven years.

But Liberal Democrat Cllr Rob Hylands said the firm’s premature announcement made it seem like the council community board, which approved the contract, was just acting as a rubber stamp.

It comes after Gosport Borough Council was criticised for increasing its chief executive’s pay in an unadvertised last-minute addition to a meeting agenda.

Cllr Hylands said: ‘I’ve been to two previous meetings when important and controversial decisions had been jumped on us.

‘I know council leader Mark Hook and the Tories are saying they want to involve all the parties but frankly their actions are different.

‘Had they made this decision already?’

Cllr Hylands said he does not think Novus is the wrong firm for the job.

But he is critical of the way the bid has been handled.

Cllr Hook, Tory council leader, said the firm had been told it was the preferred contractor but the final decision was not made until the board meeting last Monday.

He said leaseholders of the blocks had to be told of any change in contractors 30 days in advance to get their comments, and this was why Novus were identified as potential contract winners.

Cllr Hook said: ‘They did jump the gun by saying they won the contract.

‘We did say to them that they should take it off their website.’

He added the contract was of better value for the council than the previous one.

All bidders for the contract were told in early August if they had won or lost, before letters were sent out on September 16 – a day after Gosport council’s community board meeting.

The matter was discussed behind closed doors, as is normal for items containing commercially-sensitive information.

A spokeswoman for Novus said the announcement was made due to an administrative error after the firm was told it had provisionally won.

She said: ‘A press release was released before this stage in the process was complete and we have apologised to the council for this oversight on our part.’