Feb 13 2014 by Rebecca Koncienzcy, Skelmersdale Advertiser
WEST Lancashire Borough Council has spent millions of pounds on fees to consultants since 2009.
The amount of money spent on these short term employees reached its peak in the tax year 2011/12 when the new managing directors took over.
The managing directors, Gill Rowe and Kim Webber, took over the reins when the council culled its chief executive, Bill Taylor, after 14 years in a radical shake-up intended to save £165,000 a year.
In that year the council spent £684,000 on ad hoc work and in total since then it has paid out more than £2m.
But the figure did come down to £342,000 for the tax year 2012/13.
The total amount spent on the consultants since 2009 now stands at £2,129,000, including £560,000 in 2010/11 and £544,000 in 2009/10.
The council told the Advertiser that the managing directors were “too busy” to answer questions on the matter.
But West Lancashire Borough Council has stated that the consultants fees only represent a small percentage of overall expenditure.
A spokespersonsaid: “Council expenditure on consultants each year represents a small proportion of the council’s total budget.
“For example, the council’s total expenditure in 2012/13 was £93m, and in that financial year the authority spent £0.341m on consultants’ fees. This represents 0.37% of the council’s turnover for that year.
“The council employs consultants, usually on a short term basis, for particular specialised projects or tasks where it does not have the in-house expertise or the staff available to carry out the task, for example in relation to building projects.
“When the council is considering using consultants, strict guidelines are followed, including financial regulations and contract procedure rules, in order to ensure that doing so will achieve value for money and be of benefit to residents, stakeholders and the council.”