HC Deb 10 February 1997 vol 290 cc82-3W
Mr. Dover

To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment if he will require Chorley borough council to invite new tenders for its landscaping and ground maintenance work; and if he will make a statement. [15217]

Sir Paul Beresford

On 10 July 1996 my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State served a notice upon Chorley borough council, setting out his view that the authority had acted anti-competitively during a competition for grounds maintenance work. My right hon. Friend has given careful consideration to the authority's response to the notice.

It is my right hon. Friend's view that, in its method of calculating prospective redundancy costs if the contract were awarded to an external contractor, Chorley borough council acted in contravention of the regulations and statutory guidance.

My right hon. Friend also considers that the authority has contravened the guidance by not informing contractors that the costs associated with the termination of leases would be taken into account in the tender evaluation. He has, therefore, today given the authority a direction which requires it to re-tender grounds maintenance work by 10 November 1997. The council must seek his consent if, at the end of the re-tendering process, it plans to assign the work to its direct services organisation.