Opposition demanding answers over experts

SUFFOLK: Opposition leader Kathy Pollard is today demanding assurances that thousand of pounds being spent on consultants will not go on “wacky” projects like making model pyramids or circus animals.

The council’s cabinet next week is being asked to approve spending up to �122,000 on consultants looking a new ways of running the authority.

Now it has emerged that one of the groups that would be engaged for up to 40 days specialises in team-building exercises.

Fields of Learning is based in Bedfordshire and was used by the county council there when current Suffolk chief Andrea Hill was in charge there.

It has already been used by Suffolk County Council since her arrival, and is now set to be offered the chance of more work at a cost of up to �42,000.

It runs courses based on “neuro-linguistic programming” – a form of analysis described by the Liberal Democrats in Suffolk as “management psycho-babble.”

It runs courses for senior managers that its website describes in glowing terms. It says: “Join us in the delightful setting of a rural village overlooking a classic English green complete with cricket pitch, tennis court, village pond, and historic church and local pub on the edge of the Woburn Estate in Bedfordshire.”

Most Read

Among the activities that it has encouraged managers to try is building a model pyramid to sell to someone pretending to be a pharaoh, and building circus animals out of toilet rolls and felt.

Mrs Pollard says: “This all sounds quite incredible. We don’t know whether that is what this money will be spent on – but that’s the point.

“The cabinet is being asked to allocate this money without anyone knowing how it will be spent.

“This administration is very keen to say how it is cutting cost but cannot keep tabs on its finances.”

Council deputy leader Jane Storey said next week’s cabinet meeting was merely being asked to allow the spending of the money with going through the official tendering process.

“We have to work quickly because change is going to come to the organisation very quickly.

“But I don’t know all the details of what the consultants will be doing. They will be looking at ways the organisation can deliver its services more efficiently.

“They do sometimes use an icebreaker when working with staff -– but whether that will involve felt animals, I don’t know.”

n Does the council waste money on consultants? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or e-mail eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk