Bosses defend consultant fee

TOWN chiefs have come in for criticism after it emerged they are paying a consultant £65,000 a year to plug a staff shortage in environmental health.

TOWN chiefs have come in for criticism after it emerged they are paying a consultant £65,000 a year to plug a staff shortage in environmental health.

The figure, close to double that of a full time council-employed environmental health officer, is being paid because of a lack of interest in two positions on the team that have remained unfilled for the past two years.

Labour opponents of the borough's Tory-led administration claim the situation has impacted on the noise nuisance service in Ipswich because there are no staff available at night - a claim the Borough council has denied.

But opponents say the failure to fill the vacancies should have been tackled a long time ago.


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Labour councillor Neil MacDonald said: "Ipswich residents have been paying significantly over the odds for a poor noise nuisance service.

“If the council had reviewed staff salaries two years ago when they should have, vacancies would have been filled, we would have a better service and we would be paying less."

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The subject of long term vacancies in the environmental health department has been looked at over a series of meetings in recent weeks.

It has been decided to pay senior environmental health officers a supplement in order to bring the salary in line with those on offer at other authorities.

Louise Gooch, responsible for environment at Ipswich Borough Council, said the authority was not losing cash by employing a consultant because the cost is covered by the budget set aside for the unfilled vacancies.

She added that the service has not suffered as the consultant is a recognised expert and refuted Labour claims that no staff are available to witness noise nuisance at night.

She said: “We have done our best to breach the gap.

“Because the consultant is freelance they can be employed at times to suit the organisation.

“The service has absolutely not suffered.”

Do you have concerns about the noise nuisance service on offer from the council? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or e-mail eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk

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