LANCASHIRE County Council’s ruling cabinet have extended 48 contracts with suppliers worth £17.9million a year because procedures to renew them had not been undertaken.

Senior councillors authorised the ‘blanket waiver’ which was legally necessary to continue deals for a range of vital services including the supply of food, construction and oils and tyres for is vehicles.

A new draft procurement process to speed up the tendering process in future was also authorised.

The waiver affected 24 expired contracts totalling £13.4million and a further 14 valued at £4.5million due to expire in the next year.

Labour deputy county council leader Coun David Borrow blamed the Tories, in charge at County Hall until a year ago, for the problem.

He said: “This exposes a significant failure of the previous Conservative administration in its political management of the council’s procurement service.

“When I took responsibility last year I spotted a large number of contracts being extended without going out to tender. This is against both the council’s own policy and the law.

“It also became clear that procurement savings targets were not being met.”