A leading contractor has warned that the slow take-up of best value procurement in local government could mean the return of adversarial contracts.

Stelio Stefanou, chief executive of Accord, said many local authority projects were still blighted by disputes.

Speaking at a fringe meeting on local government contracts, Stefanou said: “Adversarial relationships between some companies, some local authorities and some unions still exist on all sides.”

Stefanou, who is also chairman of the CBI’s local government committee, said the successful implementation of best value would take years. It replaced compulsory competitive tendering as councils’ procurement method on 1 April.

Fears were also raised at the meeting that local authorities could lose out on central government cash because of delays in introducing best value, which insists on quality of service rather than lowest price alone.

Vince Pearson, private finance initiative managing director at facilities management company Sodexho, said: “If there is too much procrastination, you might find that the investment will go into other parts of government such as health and defence.”