SCOTTISH Borders Council extended a recycling contract worth £200,000 without first advertising the contract to potential bidders. 

In April 2017, the council, at that time run by an SNP-Lib Dem-independent coalition, handed the current contract holder J&B Recycling an extension to its £1.35m recycling waste contract due to “extreme urgency brought about by unforeseeable events”.

Under European regulations, local authorities must show there was a competitive bidding process in order to provide maximum efficiency for the use of taxpayers’ money. 

However, measures do exist to allow councils to circumvent this requirement where this a valid reason to do so.

Responding to the news, John O’Connell, chief executive of the Taxpayers’ Alliance, said: “Sunlight is the best disinfectant in these cases, and taxpayers must be able to see whether their cash was spent properly in this instance. 

“Residents expect that their councils will play by the rules and deliver value for money and deserve to know if this hasn’t happened. 

“As with Caesar’s wife, our councils must be above suspicion.”

The contract extension is the latest in a long-running fiasco bedevilling the council’s waste and recycling services. 

In 2011, the council, then led by a Conservative-Lib Dem-independent coalition, awarded a 24-year waste management contract to New Earth Solutions Group, valued at between £65m and £80m.

The deal included the construction of a waste treatment facility at Easter Langlee, Galashiels, at an estimated cost of up to £23m. 

The company failed to deliver on the facility at Easter Langlee, and in 2015 the contract was terminated.

After New Earth Solutions went bust, the council was forced to write off more than £2.4m of taxpayers’ money.

A council spokesperson said: “A voluntary ex ante transparency notice was published on April 13, 2017, on the Public Contract Scotland website to inform the market of our intention to extend the existing agreement with the current service provider for a period of up to three years.

“Market feedback from the publication of this notice identified other suppliers who could potentially provide this service. 

“Therefore, the council did not proceed with the full extension period. In order to allow a full review of all future waste management service requirements and to maintain existing service delivery, a shorter term extension was agreed with the current service provider.”

The latest deal will also see waste from the Scottish Borders continue to be taken to the north east of England to be processed at J&B’s recycling plants. 

The spokesperson added: “Regarding the council’s carbon footprint, there is an ongoing review of waste services which will incorporate all aspects of sustainability and will enable the council to meet its legislative requirements.

“The council is delivering its services with a considerably smaller carbon footprint and has been involved in major energy-saving projects such as the LED street-lighting scheme, solar panel installation at council properties, electric vehicle-charging points and new pilot project Change Works in Peebles, which is working with residents and businesses to reduce energy use in the town.”