Council chiefs faced calls to rethink a decision to insource a cleaning service amid concerns it may not represent the best deal for taxpayers and the economy.

Members of Enfield’s Conservative group claimed councillors had not been given enough information to support a decision to insource the road gully cleaning service and asked for it to be sent back to cabinet.

Cabinet members agreed to bring the service in house at a meeting on May 13, with a council report stating the move would increase the number of gullies cleaned every year and raise extra income for the local authority.

But at a meeting of the overview and scrutiny committee on Thursday (May 28), Tory leader Cllr Joanne Laban said the cabinet report lacked key details necessary for councillors to make an informed decision.

Cllr Laban (Highlands) said: “If we are members and doing our job, we have to make sure we have the information to make the right decisions for the residents of Enfield that are cost effective and provide the best taxpayer value.”

The Tory leader said there was no information on how many gullies could be cleaned by a switching to a new contractor – such as a local business, which would help to grow the borough’s economy – instead of bringing it in-house.

She added there was no consideration given to the financial impact of Covid-19 on the borough.

Cllr Laban said officers had provided some of the missing information in response to the call-in, but this should have been included in the original report.

Doug Wilkinson, the council’s director of environment, told the committee the contract for the gully-cleaning service was currently shared with Haringey.

He said: “The big advantage of in house and direct management of the service is we have absolute control over what the resource does for 100 per cent of the time.

“Our first and foremost priority is improving the quality and performance of the in-house service.

“It is very difficult to benchmark without going to formal procurement and testing the market. It is difficult to get prices because they are very commercially sensitive – suppliers and other authorities are reluctant to share that information.”

Cllr Tolga Aramaz (Labour, Edmonton Green) said he had gone through the cabinet report underlining sections where he would want to ask questions before realising the answers had been provided in the response to the call-in.

He added: “It shows, if members are picking up the same questions, they should have been included in the report – this is a very thin document.”

In response to further questioning, John Grimes, the council’s group engineer for highway maintenance, said a previous in-house service had been able to clean 100 gullies per day – more than the current rate.

He added: “Based on that fact, I still believe there will be potential for extra time to do additional work.”

Mr Wilkinson confirmed removing the gully-cleaning service from the current provider would not come at any extra cost to the council.

Cabinet member for environment Cllr Guney Dogan (Labour, Lower Edmonton) added: “Income opportunities are only possible if we are insourcing the service. I think this report is that step.

“Keeping the service outsourced and privatised means we have zero opportunity to generate income.”

After hearing the responses from the cabinet member and council officers, the three Conservative members of the committee voted to refer the matter back to cabinet, but five Labour members of the committee voted to confirm the original decision.