A Question of accountability as CBC employ contractors at up to £800 a Day

by CBC Independent councillor, John Baker

"At the November CBC Council meeting, I introduced proposals to tackle the Council's use of expensive contractors and consultants, that can be hired quickly via an agency. I cited two examples:

1. One member of Highways at a cost of £450-500/day: Extensive enquiries were made to the Assistant Director for Highways requesting a job description, project plan and deliverables, resulting in no documentation being supplied to justify the role.

2. One member of Children's Services at a cost of £750-800/day: Councillors only found out about this appointment, with an anticipated annual cost to the Council of over £150,000/year, at a public meeting.

"Introducing these proposals to the Council, I explained that one department, Children's Services, was spending up to £5,500/day on 10 temporary workers, some engaged for months, and one engaged for a year (as above).

"Whilst there may be a good reason to engage some contractors, such as genuine short term project work, I'm not convinced that's true for all cases. The Council faces reductions in its income over the next financial year and can not expect a bailout from central government. This means it needs to get a grip on its expenditure, and stop wasting money on contractors where there is little justification. We can't come to you and ask for a 2% Council Tax increase, whilst employing an ever growing army of contractors.

"I proposed changes whereby a business case must be approved by the relevant Cabinet members for expensive contract hires, and those hires must be reviewed by a committee on a periodic basis. I'm pleased to report that my proposals are now being moved to a Committee that can recommend changes to the Council's constitution, to enforce such change.

"Greater transparency should encourage Council Directors to think twice about engaging contractors without telling Councillors!"