Letter from Mike Fletcher

The following message was received today from Mike Fletcher Chairman of the Sustainable Growth Scrutiny Committee who was reportedly barred by Peterborough City Council Leader Marco Cereste from the Task and Finish Group set up to investigate Peterborough City Council’s use of and spending on consultants.
It is published here as a matter of public interest. Copyright remains with Cllr. Fletcher.


Att:- Adam Uren, ET. New Listener. 27th April 2010.

The questions attached are those as submitted by myself as chairman of the Sustainable Growth Scrutiny Committee dated 18th January 2010. Although I have not made any request under the FOI act, a great deal of officer time and money has been wasted on this pointless exercise.

Please see this section:-
“Once established, the Group will also determine a definition for ‘consultants’ within the context of its work as presently there is a degree of confusion as to what is meant by consultants.”
I find this statement to be quite unbelievable. It would appear that officers do not have sufficient knowledge of the subject to know what a consultant is!!

This whole business begins to have a stench about it that is somewhat overpowering. It is my belief that PCC officers have no intention whatsoever of divulging exactly what these people are doing or what they are achieving. The only information to come out is that they have been paid twelve million pounds last year.

There is no reason whatsoever for a so-called ‘task and finish group’ to be set up. That is what scrutiny is for. When officers blatantly refuse to answer legitimate questions they are undermining the authority of scrutiny and treating the whole procedure with the utmost contempt. If the recommendations of the March 2006 report were being followed all answers to the questions asked should be ‘kept centrally’ and be ‘readily available’.

It should also be noted that a meaningless and expensive report presented to scrutiny on the 15th March did not answer one question. The time and cost involved by refusal to comply with a legitimate request, as put forward in the public interest, has to excessively outweigh just simply answering the questions from the outset in an honest and proper fashion.

The people of Peterborough have a right to know how their hard earned money is being spent and refusal to disclose this information can only be construed as wilful obstruction.


Cllr: Michael Fletcher.


Zerafa Ed (Ed.Zerafa@peterborough.gov.uk)
Sent: 22 April 2010 16:44:43
To: mfletcher9@hotmail.com


Dear Councillor Fletcher,
Your request for information has now been considered and the information requested is given below.

Please confirm the actual value of the amount spent on consultants over the past year and itemise the companies and/or individuals this money was actually paid to.
Please answer all questions as contained in the written document dated 18th January 2010.
Identify all consultancy companies.
Identify any company which may be subcontracting to the main consultancy company.
Identify the employees of the subcontracting company who may be already working for PCC.
Are the employees of the sub-contracting company directors of that company.
Identify any other individuals who may be operating on a self employed basis and are engaged by PCC.
Identify the service period of any and all individuals who have been employed by PCC, on a consultancy basis, either directly or indirectly.
Clarify the actual reason for the engagement of all consultants and companies. The areas of work undertaken and the financial benefits derived from that employment
Clarify the status of Amtec PLC in relation to V4 Ltd and method of remuneration.
Who actually makes the decision to engage a consultant and how is this decision actually authorised.
Who determines what rate is paid.
Exactly what rate is paid, plus any other fees which may be involved.
Provide documented evidence by way of a copy invoice as proof of all monthly payments.
Provide documented evidence of the actual yearly cost of all consultancy fees.
What action is being taken to reduce the reliance on consultants.
What recommendations, if any, were implemented following on from an enquiry held some five or six years ago into the use of consultants.

At this time the Council is unable to provide the information requested.
The Council’s Sustainable Growth Scrutiny Committee is in the process of establishing a Task and Finish Group to review the use of consultants by the Council and the information requested replicates the work the Task and Finish Group will be undertaking.  Once established, the Group will also determine a definition for ‘consultants’ within the context of its work as presently there is a degree of confusion as to what is meant by consultants. The Group will then investigate this issue and report back to the Sustainable Growth Scrutiny Committee by September 2010. As the Group’s report will be published on the Council’s website, in line with all Scrutiny Committee papers, the Council is not obliged to supply the information requested.

In accordance with the Freedom of Information Act 2000 this correspondence acts as a Refusal Notice. The exemption applied is Section 22 of the Act which states that a public authority is not obliged to provide information which intended for publication at a future date.

Additionally, the request is broad in nature and scope and it is estimated that to provide the information would take longer than the statutory cost and time limit outlined in section 12 of the Freedom of Information Act 2000. Under section 12 and associated regulations a public authority does not have to comply with any Freedom of Information request that would take an officer or several officers combined more than 18 hours to complete.
I apologise that your request will not be met but if you have any further information needs in the future then please contact me.

You have the right of appeal against the decision. If you wish to appeal please set out in writing your grounds of appeal and send to the Information Specialist, Peterborough City Council, Town Hall, Bridge Street, Peterborough, PE1 1HG; Telephone: 01733 452295, e-mail: foi@peterborough.gov.uk

You also have a right of appeal to the Information Commissioner at:
The Information Commissioner’s Office
Wycliffe House, Water lane
Wilmslow, Cheshire
Tel: 01625 545700

Yours faithfully
Ed Zerafa
Information Specialist
Peterborough City Council
Town Hall Peterborough PE1 1HG
Telephone 01733 452295