A DAIRY has had to reduce hours for its ten strong staff after losing a council contract to a firm based 120 miles away. 

Raglan Dairy, located just 15 minutes drive from Monmouthshire County Council’s headquarters in Usk, had been supplying the local authority with milk from eight farms in the county for the past nine years but its contract hasn’t been renewed. 

Instead Monmouthshire primary schools, leisure centres and some care homes will be served by Haverfordwest-based Totally Welsh which says it sources its milk from farms in Pembrokeshire and the neighbouring Carmarthenshire and Ceredigion. 

Monmouthshire council spends around £120,000 a year on milk but said its “desire” to buy locally has been trumped by procurement rules that require a competitive process. 

James Durose, of Raglan Dairy, said as a result of losing the contract its four full-time employees have lost their overtime and six part-timers have seen a reduction in their hours. 

“In the short term it will hurt us, as losing any big chunk of work would,” said Mr Durose: “My staff have each lost some hours and we may have to look at some areas we deliver to and possibly cut the frequency of deliveries in those areas. It’s something we are looking at and monitoring at this moment.” 

Opposition Conservative councillors have criticised the change in provider and Mr Durose said he wanted to thank them and Monmouth MP, the UK Government’s Welsh Secretary, David Davies for their support. 

Mr Davies said: “The procurement process gives a lot of weight to non-price related questions, which would favour large businesses who are used to dealing with bureaucracy.” 

Usk councillor Tony Kear criticised the Labour-led council’s stance on the procurement process.

The Conservative said: “It is a mess frankly. To me it a procurement process that smacks of spreadsheet assessments rather than looking at the council being provided with a high quality Monmouthshire-based service.” 

Cllr Kear said Raglan Dairy had previously assisted the council’s aims in moving to glass bottles, to reduce plastic waste, and said he was concerned at the impact of the decision. 

“This will increase food miles and we don’t know the unintended consequences of taking out £120,000 from the local economy or on the business, it’s bound to have a knock on effect. I think the process is clearly flawed.” 

Monmouthshire council has said it works with 20 other Welsh authorities on a food framework that was re-tendered, with bids evaluated on 30 per cent price and 70 per cent quality. 

It said it could consider a stand alone option for buying milk but it couldn’t guarantee  it would result in a local supplier and it would need “sufficient supplier interest to justify deviating from the all-Wales collaborative approach.”

It added: “Monmouthshire County Council’s desire to buy locally wherever possible is well-known. In the recent procurement exercise, price was not the determining factor, quality evaluation was. Our desire has been superseded by contract law.” 

It had also said Totally Welsh had offered to work with Raglan Dairy but Mr Durose said this would have been on a week to week basis and would have seen it delivering the new provider’s products which is at odds with its locally sourced policy. 

He said he does support the council’s intention of a locally sourced food policy but questioned how it would work due to the collaboration with other councils.