Posted: Sat 20th Apr 2024

Bid to Restore Local Milk Supply Fails as Monmouthshire County Council Sticks with Totally Welsh Dairy /

A BID to force a council to “restore” a local milk supply after a contract with a Gwent dairy ended has failed. 
Monmouthshire County Council has come under fire since March when it emerged its schools, care homes, leisure centres and tourist attractions would no longer be supplied with milk by Raglan Dairy. 
It supplies milk from eight farms in Monmouthshire and is based just 15 minutes drive from County Hall in Usk but lost out when the contract was retendered and Totally Welsh, which is based 120 miles away in Haverfordwest and uses milk from Pembrokeshire, Carmarthen and Ceredigion, came out on top. 
The Labour led cabinet has already announced it intends pulling out of the all Wales framework, ran by Caerphilly Borough Council, under which the contract was awarded and instead consider standalone arrangements for milk supply, which could take up to six months. 
But the Conservative opposition group wanted the full council to agree a motion that: “Instructs the administration to take urgent steps to restore local provision of dairy products.” 
Opposition leader Cllr Richard John said the terms of the contract allowed for the positions of the primary supplier, which was Totally Welsh, and secondary supplier Raglan Dairy, to be flipped if the conditions hadn’t been met. 
Cllr John claimed as the Cardiff distribution centre Totally Welsh has acquired had a food safety rating of only one, the lowest on the scale of five, when the contract was awarded in January it didn’t meet the terms of the tender which required a minimum of three. 
“One out of five is a terrible score,” said Cllr John who described dairy as a “high risk food” and said the inspection report of the Cardiff depot during a refurbishment “makes for grim reading”. 
He said the firm is now supplying Monmouthshire’s “most vulnerable residents, our children and elderly.” 
Council leader Mary Ann Brocklsby said the depot now has a three rating and said the firm is putting in other improvements to get to five stars but said it wasn’t delivering milk for it in January. 
Cllr John had also criticised the tender as he said it sought a supplier for secondary schools, that have their own arrangements, and Haberdashers Monmouth schools which are private schools that aren’t run by the council. 
“This has been a shambolic process,” said Cllr John and added as the contract required milk be delivered in single use plastic bottles – when Raglan Dairy had accommodated the council’s desire to use glass – it had shown its “virtue signalling about climate change”. 
Cllr Brockelsby said Total Welsh has been using glass bottles for its Monmouthshire deliveries and said it was the previous Conservative administration that had entered the council into the all Wales procurement network in 2018. 
She said it had worked well for the council and was done so to provide value for money but changing needs, including around the storage of milk, meant it should now seek a stand alone arrangement which will require a new tender. 
She also said both dairies had been involved in negotiations about working together under the contract until March when they failed to reach an agreement. 
The motion was defeated when Labour tabled an amendment which backed support for local supply and noted the review already initiated. ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​

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