Consultants cost Wrexham council £2m in two years


Liam Randall

WREXHAM Council has spent almost £2 million on consultants in two years, the Leader can reveal.

It also spent £700,000 on solicitors and barristers in the same period, according to a previously undisclosed report.

The authority spent £1,889.140 on consultants between April, 2010 and March, 2012.

The figures were first revealed in a confidential report sent to councillors by the head of corporate and customer services in October.

Gwersyllt West councillor Arfon Jones obtained the figures under the Freedom of Information Act, in order to disclose them publicly.

Cllr Jones said: “My main concern is that the report was disclosed as confidential.

“As a council we need to be open and transparent. We’re spending public money and they should know how much is being spent.

“They’re justified in keeping the list of consultants used confidential as it’s commercially sensitive, but what I can’t understand is why they also kept the spending figures private.

“What the council should have done is published the figures in a public report. That information should be in the public domain.”

Broken down, the report showed that gross expenditure for the engagement of consultants for 2010-11 was £1,150,924.

Funding from specific grants contributed £442,562 towards the bill.

The figures were slightly lower for the period 2011-12 at £738,215 with a grant contribution of £260,446.

A total of £296,781 was spent on solicitors and barristers between 2010-11.

That figure went up to £401,856 in 2011-12, which the authority said was partially due to having to instruct the Queen’s Counsel for a planning case.

Lee Robinson, strategic director for Wrexham Council, described the authority as “a large diverse organisation” with a gross expenditure of nearly £350m.

He said: “There are certain specialist areas of expertise that it is best to buy in.

“This provides better value for money to taxpayers than permanently employing skills that we don’t use all the time.

"The level of spend on consultants tends to vary according to the size of the council’s capital programme and a significant proportion is paid for by the external grants supporting these projects.”

He added: “An example of the consultants used in 2011/12 was in relation to Wrexham’s decision to install solar panels on up to 3,000 homes.

“This was the largest social housing solar PV project in the UK and will result in almost 3,000 tonnes of CO2 being saved annually.

“Projections indicate this will generate an annual net surplus in excess of £500k over the course of the next 25 years which will be reinvested back into council services.

“Our tenants will also benefit through reduced electricity bills and 50 local jobs were also created as part of the project.

“The council has systems in place to challenge the use of consultants and is open and transparent in disclosing these details.

“Extra costs and fees are only incurred where absolutely necessary.”

What do you think? Email or write to Your Letters.

See full story in the Leader

Leave your comment

Share your opinions on

Characters left: 1500

Most Read