Waste contract tenders causing concern

Wollongong City Council could be forced to award a contract for processing of its building waste to a northern Illawarra business that it previously investigated for operating such a service without appropriate development approvals.

Helensburgh's Blackwell Bros is among a list of four businesses recommended for appointment to a panel of contractors responsible for removing and processing waste material from council construction sites around the city.

A report to today's council meeting estimates the five-year contract to be worth around $7.5 million, or $1.5 million each year.

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Blackwell Bros previously held a similar contract with the council but the agreement stopped in 2011 after an internal council investigation found development and activity on a Walker Street property had exceeded the scope and footprint of the 1983 development consent, the family was operating waste tipping and recycling services without approval and the site did not have appropriate Environmental Protection Authority licences.

The staff report recommends councillors accept Blackwell Bros' tender for disposal at both the company's Helensburgh and Kembla Grange sites, on the condition the company submit monthly statements demonstrating compliance with EPA requirements and directions.

The council also stipulated the family would need appropriate council approval to operate the waste service at its Helensburgh property.

A development application for the site is still being assessed by council officers.

Wollongong Lord Mayor Gordon Bradbery said he was concerned about the public perception associated with the potential appointment.

However, he said the Local Government Act set out strict laws surrounding tendering and councillors could not interfere with the process.

"When we put out a public tender everyone is entitled to apply," he said.

"If we don't follow through the due process we would be breaking the law.

"Before people jump to conclusions [about the council accepting the Blackwell tender] they need to be aware of the law and the requirements the council has to fulfil under the Local Government Act in tendering."

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