Bradford steps up fight over direct labour ban

BRADFORD Council has hired barrister Geoffrey Stephenson in its bid to fight a government ban on awarding highways and sewers contracts to its direct labour organisation.

Stephenson will consider the legal arguments open to the West Yorkshire council before reporting back to the borough's principal solicitor Tim Date.

The authority was told last month that it could no longer award highways and sewers work to its contracting arm Bradmet, because it had made a loss of £1.2 million.

Date says it is still too early to say what the issues will be, but Stephenson is expected to report back next month.

Bradford councillors believe that the Department of the Environment has acted unreasonably in deciding to enforce a ban on using the DLO.

Council leader Alan Mudd says a report on Bradmet and its financial difficulties has been sent to the DoE in an attempt to show civil servants how the company's performance has improved.

Bradford's counsel advice comes from chambers noted for their expertise in local government and planning law. Anthony Scrivener QC is also based there.

Stephenson acted for Haringey Council when it unsuccessfully opposed a DoE ruling that the north London authority must re-tender a refuse collection contract awarded to its DLO.