GOSPORT Borough Council hired a Spanish firm to collect its bins – despite the deal costing £740,000 more than the cheapest bid, The News can reveal.
Urbaser has won a £24m contract to run Gosport’s refuse collections over the next 10 years.
It was the second-cheapest offer on the table, but £74,000 a year more than the lowest bidder Verdant – the Kent-based firm which had been collecting the town’s waste.
That means over the 10-year contract, taxpayers will have to pay £740,000 extra.
The Tory-run council has defended choosing the more expensive Spanish firm, saying it will deliver a better service.
But the leader of the Gosport Lib Dems, Peter Chegwyn, said the deal was poor value for money.
‘In the present climate when services are being cut, the council should have gone with the cheapest bid,’ he said.
‘Whether they are any good at the job I don’t know but they weren’t the cheapest. That £74,000 could have kept the amenity skip service running for another year. It’s money down the drain.’
Six companies were invited to bid for the contract but only four came forward – Kier, Veolia, Urbaser and Verdant.
Earlier this year the Tories came under fire for sending a delegation – including Cllr Chris Carter – on a £988 taxpayer-funded trip to Madrid to see Urbaser in action.
Urbaser eventually came top in the council’s quality assessment, while Verdant came third.
The Spanish firm now collects Gosport’s household, garden and clinical waste and empties recycling banks. It also cleans streets, public toilets and some of the town’s sports pavilions.
Councillor Graham Burgess, who’s in charge of environment issues at the council, said Urbaser’s contract was £3m cheaper than the previous deal. He added: ‘Gosport deserves the best service possible at a price we can afford.
‘Urbaser came in with the best service possible. They scored the highest out of all the firms chosen.
‘We have got a brand new fleet of vehicles. To date it has been a seamless transfer. It’s gone really well. There are more people on the streets – 26 instead of 19 to help clean the streets.
‘It’s noticeable as we go about. It’s a credit to Urbaser. They have made a really positive start.’
A spokeswoman for Verdant, the company previously in charge of Gosport’s waste collection, said the firm was ‘extremely disappointed’ at losing the contract.
The council has signed three other 10-year deals worth £75.4m.
Kier Support Services has been awarded two contracts to maintain council properties. The first is for maintenance and repair work on council houses. The second covers servicing and repairs to gas and hot water systems.
Sodexo Land Technology is now looking after Gosport’s play area maintenance, grass cutting, allotments and Ann’s Hill Cemetery.
Each contract has a possible extension of five years.