SCOTLAND'S Central Regional Council last week awarded two school meals and welfare catering contracts to its direct service organisation (DSO), despite a lower bid for one of the contracts from CCG Services.
CCG said it would contest the decision in a situation similar to that faced by Compass subsidiary Chartwells in Bedfordshire (News, Caterer, 28 April).
The council said the DSO, Central Catering Services, had won the south area contract because an evaluation team and consultants from Touche Ross had voiced concerns about the quality of CCG's bid.
A CCG spokeswoman said the company was "extremely disappointed" about the decision. "We have an established reputation in school meals catering dating back 10 years, and that is based on the quality of service we offer," she said.
CCG already operates school meals contracts in the Borders region and North Yorkshire (see page 12), as well as in the London boroughs of Ealing, Greenwich, Hillingdon, Westminster and Wandsworth.
A statement from the council said it was not obliged to consider merely cost in awarding a contract.
"Central Catering Services offers the better and more reliable service in terms of the contract requirements,"it said.
The council added that the DSO had won the north area contract because its bid was "substantially lower" than the other valid tender from BET Catering Services.
A third tender from CCG for that contract had been ruled invalid because it was unsigned.
The CCG spokeswoman said that the ruling had been frustrating for the company, but the company had to accept it.
"The tender document was extremely substantial and there was a partial omission on our part in that we left a signature off one page," she said.
The two contracts have a combined annual turnover of £3.5m, and are primarily for school meals, plus the meals-on-wheels services and lunches in senior citizens' day centres.
The north contract covers 83 units, with the south covering 24.