Criticism over council's decision to source fruit and vegetables for Doncaster schools from firm located 50 miles away
Doncaster Council has been criticised for paying £1 million to a firm over 50 miles away to provide fruit and vegetables to schools in the borough, despite issuing a ‘climate emergency’.
Documents show DMBC gave a contract to firm Chaulker’s from Rochdale, Greater Manchester who specialise in transportation of fresh produce.
Bosses have been criticised by councillors from both Labour and the Conservatives who raised issues around buying local and the impact on the council’s carbon footprint.
The contract, which was signed off September last year, runs until 2023.
Recent reports show DMBC spent 73 per cent of all contracts in the borough.
Council bosses said the contract was awarded through a ‘competitive procurement process’ and is ‘value for money’.
Tosh McDonald, Labour councillor for the Town ward, said: “I think most people in Doncaster will be disappointed that this contract is taking money out of the local economy but this is down to very strict and restrictive procurement procedures that councils have to go through.
“It does seem madness that we can’t award council contracts to local businesses to stimulate our local economy, support Doncaster businesses and reduce our carbon footprint. It is to be hoped this can be changed when we leave the EU.
“Every day I am disappointed that we see big projects here in Doncaster with workers travelling in on a Monday morning to leave on a Friday afternoon once again taking their earnings out of our town. In the meantime we should all do what we can by supporting our local businesses and tradesmen.”
Nick Allen, Conservative councillor for Bessacarr, said: “I have a few concerns about the cost of this contract and the fact the council did not use a local supplier.
“There is an impact on the environment too - surely it would have been greener and cheaper for the council to shop. Perhaps next time DMBC should aim to source seasonal fruit and vegetables from a more competitive local supplier.”
Debbie Hogg, director of corporate resources at DMBC, said: “Doncaster Schools Catering prides itself on producing economical and nutritious meals for our children. They work very closely with procurement to continuously secure the most advantageous tenders to a very high specification.
“The supplier was chosen through an equitable competitive procurement exercise that considered qualitative information and value for money.
“The successful company is based in Rochdale but has multiple farmers and providers of fruit and vegetables that reside in the Yorkshire area.
“Deliveries are made directly to the schools using four routes which they follow for the council that have been specifically mapped so as to reduce transport miles and subsequently emissions.”