A LEADING Tory councillor has defended the decision to award the council’s housing repair contract to a single contractor.
Thurrock Labour have made a series of criticisms of the contract process.
Cllr Carl Morris said: “Tenants were told they would be consulted on the contract, but it was awarded to Morrisons Facilities Ltd, despite this being the least favoured option by the panel.
He said: “The Tory council claimed that this decision was fully supported by tenants; they claimed that Morrisons Facilities Services Ltd is the best for the job; and they claimed that no-one will lose out.
“How is it then that even the tenants who were ‘consulted’ before the decision was made were not allowed to opt for their favoured contractor?”
He added: “I’m being told that not only did the four tenants’ representatives on the so-called tender evaluation panel not favour Morrisons, the company was their least favourite.
“And when it came down to the final selection they were offered just two options and neither one was the one they favoured.
“I don’t know if this was a political decision or a financial one. In the bad old days of privatisation you had to go for the cheapest, but now you have to look at other things too and make sure that the tax-payer or the rent-payer in this case is getting the best deal.”
But Portfolio Holder, Cllr Tunde Ojetola has made a robust defence of the decision.
He said: “We spent a lot of time going through each and every process of the tender and we are now in the final stages.
“We held an open session for all councillors in December, unfortunately, only seven members made it. At that consultation, we had the project manager, the consultant and senior officers in housing who could have answered any questions raised by any member.
“Prior to that, the report was examined by the Overview and Scrutiny committee which is a cross party, non political committee, before it went to Cabinet. Again various questions were answered and members had an opportunity to comment.
“If the call-in is upheld, then the Scrutiny Committee will have the opportunity to recommend it to the council again, but if not, then work will proceed to ensure that residents get the best service with the added benefit of the value for money.
“What are the benefits? Trade School and apprenticeships; potential involvement of local businesses in the supply chain; savings of close to £1m a year which will be rolled back into the Housing Service.
An emphasis on first time fix for repairs, feedback opportunities, text/phone calls prior to the visit of the contractor
“So it’s not just about finance, it’s about value for money.
“The contract was recently considered as part of the regeneration inspection process and they were quite complimentary about the process, the consultation and the benefits for residents.”