Wolverhampton Council pay top consultant £1k-a-day in move condemned by critics
Wolverhampton Council paid a consultant nearly £1,000 a day to oversee its regeneration programme.
Figures from a Freedom of Information request show the Labour-controlled authority forked out the daily fee of £975 to an agency for one interim consultant in the current financial year.
The individual – former Gloucester Council chief executive Julian Wain – has now left the local authority after seven months and has been replaced by full-time director of regeneration Richard Lawrence.
The data also shows that in 2017/18 Wolverhampton Council spent £1.17 million on 37 consultants, including £839-a-day on an interim consultant to head up a £3.5m programme to digitise its services.
Opposition Tories in the city have accused the council of failing to keep a grip on the purse strings by splashing the cash on pricey consultants.
Conservative councillor Paul Singh said: “In times of financial troubles the public has a right to see that the council is spending their money wisely.
“We have seen delays and overspends on a number of major projects across the city, and taxpayers will rightly question the sense in paying vast sums of money for consultants.”
Lib Dem campaigner Rob Quarmby said: “This is a slap in the face for taxpayers and public sector workers who have endured pay freezes for years.”
Wolverhampton Council leader, Councillor Roger Lawrence, said: “Interims can be a cost-effective option when we are looking for short term, specialist skills to deliver complex projects or to provide advice and expertise we may not have in house and ensuring we get the right calibre of candidate.
“We have been very careful over recent years to reduce expenditure in this area and the amount of interims we employ has fallen dramatically as a result.”
Labour councillor Milkinder Jaspal, a former governance boss for the city, said employing the best staff always comes at a cost.
“Top staff are difficult to get hold of, and it can be hard to get people in on a permanent basis,” he said.