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