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Council make U-turn over milk supplier after public outcry

10 Apr 2024 3 minute read
From left David Davies, MP, Monmouthshire Conservative Cllr Richard John and Raglan Dairy’s James Durose.

Twm Owen Local Democracy Reporter

A council which awarded a milk contract to a supplier based more than 100 miles away, over a local dairy, has announced a u-turn. 

Monmouthshire County Council had come under fire after a contract that had been held by Raglan Dairy, based just 15 minutes drive from County Hall in Usk, was awarded to Haverfordwest-based Totally Welsh which says it sources its milk from farms in Pembrokeshire and neighbouring Carmarthenshire and Ceredigion. 

The council said the contract had been awarded under a joint procurement process run with 20 other Welsh authorities.

Procurement rules

It said in March it spends £120,000 a year on milk but its “desire” to buy locally had been trumped by procurement rules that require a competitive process. 

The council has now announced however it will buy milk as a “stand alone” process outside of the joint food framework the contract had been awarded under. 

It said in a statement it has been a member of the joint scheme, that considers all aspects of the food supply chain since 2018, which meets the majority of its needs but said its “milk and dairy requirements have changed.” 

After the morning’s milking by Sarah Smith is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0.

The statement said: “As a result we have been reviewing what we really need and have decided that in this one instance we are going to adopt a stand-alone approach. 

“As a result, we are starting a fresh process. We will ensure that we give all potential providers a chance to take part and will host ‘meet the buyer’ events before we write our final tender document. 

“We will remain in tune with legislation and at the same time ensure that Monmouthshire’s present and future milk and dairy needs are best catered for.” 

The council has said it expects the bid process and a decision to take around six months. 

In March, Raglan Dairy, said the loss of the contract to supply the council with milk it collected from local farms would result in it having to reduce the hours it could offer its staff. 

The council said the food framework that was re-tendered saw bids evaluated on 30 per cent price and 70 per cent quality.

Local MP David TC Davies said: “It was absolute madness for the Labour council to award the contract not just to business based 100 miles away, but one that has a lesser food hygiene rating.

“Since the start of this scandal, I have called on Monmouthshire County Council to think again and do more to stand up for local farmers and businesses. Sadly, it seems Labour councillors thought their decision would go unnoticed but I can assure them that that was certainly not the case.

“We have so many fantastic local businesses in Monmouthshire – such as Raglan Milk – and it is vital that one of these is now picked.”

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