Shock over award of call centre contract to rival

A SUCCESSFUL bid for a call centre contract was “better for quality and price” than its rival local bid, according to a source.

KC chief executive Kevin Walsh

The awarding of the 300300 contract to international service firm Serco, which has been held by Hull telecoms group KC since its launch in 1999, has been described as a “poor decision for local people” by KC’s chief executive Kevin Walsh.

Mr Walsh said he was shocked by the city council Cabinet’s decision, saying their bid would have saved the council more than £750,000.

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More than 70 employees working at Prospect House in Hull will be affected, but they are expected to transfer across to Serco under the same terms and conditions.

Mr Walsh said: “I am still shocked that we have lost the 300300 contact centre contract and I believe it’s a poor decision for local people and the community.

“When you combine this with the fact that the service we provide is already award-winning, the risks attached to changing suppliers are significant and the chosen supplier is a multi-national business with no ties or commitment to the local economy, the decision seems unbelievable.”

However a source told the Yorkshire Post said the council believed they would have faced a legal challenge had they not awarded the contract to Serco: “The company that got the contract came out tops on quality and price. It was the best value. KC has been around a long time and there’s been a good relationship with them.

“Had the contract not been awarded to Serco we believe it would have been challenged and that would have held up the process.”

However Mr Walsh insisted the quality of their service was second to none. The firm has more than 10 other call centre clients including Network Rail and Victoria Plumb and has created around 100 new jobs since last December.

He said they would “closely review” the council’s detailed feedback.

He said: “We’ve provided the service since its launch in 1999 and throughout that period we’ve consistently achieved high levels of customer satisfaction. The quality of our service was recognised just last year when we were ranked among the top five public sector call centres in the UK. The team running the service even received an award from the council itself for the role we play in helping to improve the lives of local people.

Hull Council said last week the new contract would save the authority £339,000 a year, or £1m over the three-year deal, describing it as a win-win for customers, council and staff. In a statement it said yesterday: “Hull City Council tendered this contract in accordance with the EU rules for the letting of contracts and is therefore unable to make any formal comment until the post tender formalities, as required by the EU rules, have been completed.”