“Use of Consultants” Report Delay Mystery

An inquiry into how the Council manages to spend many millions of pounds a year on consultants, with some particular reference to Council officers employed as consultants, and which began in January, is now looking forward to November before Councillors get a sight of the truth in Committee.

BBC January Councillor Mike Fletcher talking to Andy Gall:

MF: At a Scrutiny Co-ordination meeting, held on the 27th. January, I was told by the Head of Finance that last year the Council paid consultants a total of £9 million pounds. And work that out, that is £750,000 per month, or the equivalent of 90 senior managers on £100,000 a year. Neither is this a one-off payment. Similar amounts have been paid, year after year …

MF: Let me just tell you something. On Monday 22nd February, I received an email in the evening, and was going to have an Interim Meeting the next day, but it was received without any prior consultation whatsoever, which had been issued by the Solicitors to the Council.
AG: Right.
MF: And it states: “on the instructions of the Solicitors to the Council, the Informal Meeting of the Sustainable Growth Scrutiny Committee tomorrow is required to be cancelled” The reason being, the Council is being threatened with legal action, over the release of information, and she needs to fully consider what we propose to release, with the lawyers acting for the consultants concerned. She has requested ten working days to sort out this issue. I find that to be somewhat astounding.

The “Use of Consultants” FOI request which the Council date as received on Thursday 8th April 2010, together with the Council response, including the September promise:
22nd April 2010 from Ed Zerata.

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.

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Current Status:

This is from the Sustainable Growth Scrutiny Committee Work Plan 2010/11:

Meeting scheduled for 9th November 2010 (papers to be despatched on November 1st)
November Update

Review of the Use of Consultants
To consider the report from the Review Group on the Use of Consultants.
Contact Officer: Karen Whatley

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Council of course have the option to release the report in September, interim or otherwise, and discuss it in November.

For more information, or to start from the beginning of the story, please read here:

Peterborough City Council and Consultants – For Research Purposes Only.

November Update

1 thought on ““Use of Consultants” Report Delay Mystery”

  1. I’ve read the FOI and the reply.

    Bog standard information that any middle manager would have to be able to present to senior management on a monthly basis, indeed at a time of crisis as our council leader says we are in, at the drop of a hat. If they couldn’t they would be soon told they were incapable managers and shown the door.

    Taking that information and pulling it together in one spread sheet would take less than 18 minutes, besides which the senior management should be doing that on a bi-monthly basis to ensure that the directors are fully informed so the time to produce would be less that 18 seconds, allowing for 10 seconds for sip of coffee, 7.82 seconds to raise the finger and press the button to ensure that RSI is not induced that’s about 0.18 seconds. As Jim Royle would have said “More than 18 days, my…….”

    One therefore is left with a number of options as to why PCC can’t do this. At best total incompetency at worst …. I’ll leave that to the reader to decide.

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