Overcast

Overcast

max temp: 9°C

min temp: 9°C

Search

Poll: St Edmundsbury and Forest Heath’s £1million consultancy bill - including £200,000 on move to shared service

10:06 06 June 2014

The West Suffolk House council offices in Bury St Edmunds

The West Suffolk House council offices in Bury St Edmunds

Archant

More than £1million in taxpayers’ money has been splashed out by two west Suffolk councils on consultants - a fifth of which was spent on a highly touted move to shared services.

shares

The spending by Forest Heath and St Edmundsbury councils also includes more than £11,000 on graphic designers and £50,000 for a specialist highways study into the controversial Hatchfield Farm application in Newmarket, according to figures obtained by the EADT.

The councils work together under the banner of West Suffolk and claim to be saving £3.5million a year after moving to a shared service, which included wide-scale redundancies, and a spokeswoman said it is cheaper for the council to use consultants than employ specialists full time.

“As with any business, the council employs expert advisers if we do not have the specific skills or capacity within our own staff,” said the spokeswoman.

“It is much cheaper than having more staff on our payroll, and in some cases we can also reclaim the costs.

“In the case of planning inquiries, they prevent the council being liable to the award of costs from the appellant’s side - potentially hundreds of thousands of pounds - so also provide value for money at large inquiries where the applicant uses expensive barristers and legal teams to challenge the council’s decisions on planning applications and policy.”

Almost £200,000 has been split between two firms - Ignite Consulting and Graincrest Ltd - to undertake an in-depth restructuring programme for the move to shared services.

Forty-eight redundancies across both councils saw them pay out £2.7m during the transition, according to their annual accounts.

St Edmundsbury’s emerging Vision 2031 document has seen the council fork out almost £60,000 - including £600 for two phone calls to a London barristers - while the council has also spent big on research into retail.

Retail experts DTZ Consulting were handed more than £30,000 by St Edmundsbury for a variety of reports and planning advice, while Deloitte was paid more than £37,000 to carry out a retail appraisal report.

Bury St Edmunds borough and county councillor David Nettleton said: “By reducing staff numbers, there is a need to employ outside experts on an occasional basis.

“But if St Edmundsbury and Forest Heath are increasingly becoming enabling organisations, is there a need to pay such high salaries to those officers who are merely acting as go-betweens?”

In Forest Heath, development control has been the central focus of council spending over the time period covered by the figures - from April 1, 2010, to January 1, 2014.

It paid more than £50,000 to consultants over the purchase of the Omar Homes site in Brandon, as well as £16,000 over the application to put housing at the Meddler Stud in Kentford, which was rejected by Forest Heath and again at appeal.

Leading law firm Mayer Brown was paid more than £50,000 to produce a report on the highways impact of the first 1,200-home Hatchfield Farm application.

In response to the EADT’s Freedom of Information (FoI) request, the council said: “Without undertaking this work, the council would not have been in a position to determine the planning application with all of the information and evidence available.”

shares
Rail passengers will be bussed to Newbury Park Tube station.

A 100-strong fleet of buses was rolling into action today to keep passengers moving between East Anglia and London as the first weekend rail line closure takes effect.

Ipswich Crown Court.

An Ipswich mother accused of helping herself to £27,000 of her 25-year-old son’s money while he was in a care home has told a court he let her use some of his money to pay her debts.

File photo.

More than 200 properties and businesses were without power in and around the town centre this evening.

Storymaker

This weekend is set to be cold and overcast, with just a hint of sun on Sunday - making it difficult to entertain young children.

Traffic

The A14 has reopened after a seven-vehicle crash on the A14 this evening.

Remi Morrison is pictured at Pump and Grind in Ipswich.

Another week of great music and events is upon us and Remi Morrison brings you a round up of what is happening in Ipswich over the next few days.

Stowmarket's Regal Theatre is premiering Dad's Army. In conjunction with the cinemas 80th Birthday.

A Suffolk town’s theatre and cinema kicked off its 80th birthday celebrations in style with a sell-out premiere screening of star-studded film Dad’s Army.

Oscar Fitzgerald

A man from Lowestoft who raped a 12-year-old girl after meeting her online has been jailed.

Smokey joes burger deli Ipswich

Charlotte Smith-Jarvis checks out Ipswich’s newest burger joint

Tower Ramparts in the early 1930s. This is now the townÕs bus station. The building in the right background is now the Robert Ransome public house.

Tower Ramparts, Ipswich, is the name of the road stretching from Northgate Street to High Street and the bus station for Ipswich Buses, writes David Kindred.

Most read

Most commented

Show Job Lists

Topic pages

Streetlife

Great British Life

Great British Life
MyDate24 MyPhotos24

to top arrow

Back to top