The Contentious-Administrative Court number 1 of Elche has cancelled the award of the contract for the seasonal beach services awarded by the Orihuela City Council, which includes the operation of beach bars, sunbeds and water sports.

The court has ruled that the UTE “Especialistas en Mercados SL and Gestión y Restauración Punta Prima SL” which came in second place, and which presented the lawsuit, was discriminated against when the Local Government Board agreed that the four-year contract be awarded to the company Chiringuitos del Sol in 2018, for a fee of 891,178 euros.

The judgment, which has already been appealed to the Superior Court of Justice by both the City Council and co-defendant, Chiringuitos del Sol, orders that a new tender be carried out, taking into account the ruling given by the court and the points that it considers discriminated against the UTE that came in second place, runners up in the previous tender process.

The judicial resolution, which is dated April 2020, has not been made public until now, nor has the local government coalition, of PP and Cs, made any mention of it.

The judge agrees with the plaintiff, UTE, in that, in several of the criteria that the council considered, it should have obtained a higher score than Chiringuitos del Sol, who finally won the award and who will continue to provide the service until there is a resolution.

If the appeal is not successful, the Orihuela Council will have to start the process once again of evaluating the offers that were submitted in 2018. However, if the court ruling is upheld and the contract awarded to UTE, the council will be required to pay damages for loss of profits, a sum assessed at 52,000 euro for each year of the lost contract. Therefore, the local administration faces a payment of up to € 210,053, plus costs.

Although UTE obtained the same score as the successful bidder during the tender process, and the tiebreaker was for the best financial offer, which was submitted by Chiringuitos del Sol, the court notes that many of the tender conditions were excessively scored in respect of the winning company, and that the principle of equal treatment between bidders was ignored.

The judgement states that Chiringuitos del Sol did not present a plan for equality in the workplace, that it did not provide a detailed explanation of the operation and development of the different services, as was required in the specifications, and that there was a “notable difference” between the offer of development and organisation of water sports activities on the beach that the company presented. However, in all these aspects, the council authorities scored the same for both,  Chiringuitos del Sol and UTE.

So, the award made to the company Chiringuitos del Sol, is again involved in controversy as it was four years earlier. It was the winner of the contract placed in 2014 for 363,000 euros, a much lower offer than the one it presented nine years earlier in 2005, which was for 720,000 euros.

This 2014 award is currently being prosecuted and awaiting trial in which the former councillor for beaches, Martina Scheurer, Los Verdes, faces up to 6 years in prison for the alleged crimes of fraud and revelation of privileged information, while the manager of Chiringuitos del Sol, Thomas Herteux, is facing up to 9 years in prison and disqualification from government contracts.

Despite this, the contract was again awarded to Chiringuitos del Sol in August 2018. The then Councillor of Playas, Luisa Boné (Cs), who still exercises these powers, said at the time that the process was ” faultless ” and defended that it was awarded to Chiringuitos del Sol who presented the very best offer made by the tendering companies.

Image: Facebook Chiringuitos del Sol

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