Secret County Hall report reveals consultancy shambles at Worcestershire County Council

Secret County Hall report reveals consultancy shambles

Secret County Hall report reveals consultancy shambles

First published in News
Last updated
Evesham Journal: Tom Edwards by , Political Reporter

A LEAKED report has revealed shocking failings over consultancy spending at Worcestershire County Council - including contracts being extended without politicians being told, people employed without insurance checks, no records of job interviews and practises so shoddy there are fears EU laws were breached.

Your Worcester News has been handed an explosive secret dossier highlighting major flaws over the way taxpayers' money has been handled.

The report, which has only been circulated to a handful of people and is marked 'protected', reveals:

- Contract extensions were signed with third parties without it being approved by the relevant cabinet member or manager, which is against council rules

- In one example, a contract was extended from £14,200 to £117,309, and in another it went from £30,000 to £184,000

- In both of those cases found by auditors there was no evidence the cabinet member was told, despite council rules specifying they must sign off deals costing more than £50,000

- A "common theme" was that contracts with fixed costs and timescales ended up being "significantly" longer and more expensive without any further "competitive procurement processes" taking place to find a cheaper supplier

- The worst example there was an ongoing contract, which started in March 2004 and lasted all the way to July 2013, costing £636,000, with the report saying not only was the council "unable to demonstrate value for money" but could have breached EU laws over procurement

- In a random sample of 10 outside consultants employed by the council, 40 per cent were not asked for any evidence of public liability insurance

- In two cases from a pool of 10, auditors found no proper records of job interviews taking place

- The investigators also found no proper audit trails in contracts costing taxpayers sums such as £73,000 and £103,000

- There were widespread concerns over HR issues, with risks many ongoing consultants "may be deemed an employee" by HMRC and liable for tax, all because managers were failing to complete basic questionnaires to determine whether the consultant was self-employed or regarded as an 'employee'

- That failure means the council could be held liable for unpaid income tax, National Insurance Contributions, interest and penalties

The report, compiled by internal auditors, also says in "many examples" consultants were not given clear, measurable targets, making it near-impossible to determine whether it was successful or not.

It also says there is "widespread non-compliance" around managers following council rules, with forms routinely not being filled to keep proper records, called form C1 of the Procurement Code.

The findings relate to the 2013/14 financial year, during which time more than £1 million was spent on outside consultants, the third time in five years it has smashed through the seven-figure mark.

'ABSOLUTELY SHOCKING' - COUNCILLORS CALL FOR PUBLIC INVESTIGATION

THE findings have been labelled as "absolutely shocking" by Worcestershire's opposition Labour group - amid claims the report was kept confidential to "cover up incompetency".

Councillor Peter McDonald, Labour group leader, said: "This demonstrates clearly the cavalier way it which the council too frequently engages consultants and spends taxpayers' money without a care in the world - and then tries to keep hidden the report to cover up its incompetency.

"Many consultants may never even had the necessary insurance cover, putting the council at severe risk.

"The failures are staggering - this is a shocking and damming report into the way the county spends hardworking families’ money.

"Thee systems and process that should be protecting the taxpayer are not fit for purpose."

He said at September's full council meeting he will move a motion calling for a "full investigation" into the report's findings which he wants made public.

The county council say the £636,000 contract was for a decade of work by Ellwoods Limited who provided project management services in the directorate of adult services and health, costing just over £60,000 per year.

In the two specific cases mentioned in the report where contracts were extended without proper approval, the £117,309 went on the strategy for 'early help' around young people, focusing on commissioning, while £184,000 went to an unknown third party for advice on waste initiatives.

It is also unknown whether any staff have been disciplined for failing to follow the correct procedures.

The type of spending on outside consultants over the last year include £4,525 on 'commercial mentoring' where staff went to see how the private sector operates, £18,060 on asking a private firm to look into how Worcestershire can dispose of rubbish, £259,000 on a blueprint aimed at saving money, £4,750 to collect data on traffic congestion and £168,000 on IT consultants.

The council did say an "action plan" is being put in place, which has been sent to finance director Patrick Birch, to address all of the issues.

The report was marked January 8, 2014 and the exact progress made since then on following the proper procedures is unknown.

A separate report on tax compliance has also been agreed.

The auditors said they believed there were no issues around tax not being paid, but could offer only "limited assurance" over the rest of the findings because of the risks it was exposing the council to.

Councillor John Campion, cabinet member for transformation and commissioning, said: "We are always looking to get the best value for money for the taxpayers and in some circumstances that means buying in expertise where and when we need it.

"We want to get the best outcomes as we move towards becoming an excellent council which sometimes means brings in specialist consultants for specific jobs. "However we are always selective and considerate where we do use this type of expertise.

"Our policy is to appoint consultants on a fixed-term assignment basis only and for a fixed payment following a competitive tendering process.

"As the council transforms into a 'commissioning' authority we are able to negotiate even better value from consultants now than previously."

He said using more in-house staff would "cost the taxpayer more in terms of additional benefits to a fixed wage" like pensions.

"With regards to the distribution of confidential information the council has taken a number of steps to ensure officers are reminded of internal rules and procurement procedures that must be followed at all times," he said.

Comments (26)

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9:58am Fri 8 Aug 14

CJH says...

Thank goodness this is out in the open at last. This travesty has gone on for too long. Let's hope that this leads to something positive, and that those responsible are held to account. It's OUR money they're wasting, and we're the ones who are having to put up with the cuts because of it. This is what the WN should be reporting as a local paper. Don't let it die a death now - keep investigating please.
Thank goodness this is out in the open at last. This travesty has gone on for too long. Let's hope that this leads to something positive, and that those responsible are held to account. It's OUR money they're wasting, and we're the ones who are having to put up with the cuts because of it. This is what the WN should be reporting as a local paper. Don't let it die a death now - keep investigating please. CJH
  • Score: 15

10:20am Fri 8 Aug 14

CJH says...

And just to give some perspective, there are a number of people leaving County Hall for the last time today having been made redundant as 'cost cutting' measures.
And just to give some perspective, there are a number of people leaving County Hall for the last time today having been made redundant as 'cost cutting' measures. CJH
  • Score: 5

10:24am Fri 8 Aug 14

saucerer says...

Well, I've said it before and this confirms it - total and utter incompetence from council staff at County Hall, They simply haven't got a clue what they're doing but the galling thing is that these council staff are earning so much and have great conditions, pensions and perks for being completely inept. And yet, seemingly, nothing will change and they'll continue to get away with it.

It's high time a something was in place for the residents of Worcestershire to have our say on how things are done and have an input, make all council staff accountable to the tax-payer and have the ability to say whether staff should be sacked if they continue to fail. After all, we are paying these staff through our council tax.
Well, I've said it before and this confirms it - total and utter incompetence from council staff at County Hall, They simply haven't got a clue what they're doing but the galling thing is that these council staff are earning so much and have great conditions, pensions and perks for being completely inept. And yet, seemingly, nothing will change and they'll continue to get away with it. It's high time a something was in place for the residents of Worcestershire to have our say on how things are done and have an input, make all council staff accountable to the tax-payer and have the ability to say whether staff should be sacked if they continue to fail. After all, we are paying these staff through our council tax. saucerer
  • Score: -6

10:27am Fri 8 Aug 14

CJH says...

saucerer wrote:
Well, I've said it before and this confirms it - total and utter incompetence from council staff at County Hall, They simply haven't got a clue what they're doing but the galling thing is that these council staff are earning so much and have great conditions, pensions and perks for being completely inept. And yet, seemingly, nothing will change and they'll continue to get away with it.

It's high time a something was in place for the residents of Worcestershire to have our say on how things are done and have an input, make all council staff accountable to the tax-payer and have the ability to say whether staff should be sacked if they continue to fail. After all, we are paying these staff through our council tax.
We're supposed to have our say through our local councillors...but that's a whole different story...
.
And just to clarify, don't confuse the ordinary staff with some management/directors who are on over inflated salaries which they don't actually earn! Value for money? Not a cat in hell's chance.
[quote][p][bold]saucerer[/bold] wrote: Well, I've said it before and this confirms it - total and utter incompetence from council staff at County Hall, They simply haven't got a clue what they're doing but the galling thing is that these council staff are earning so much and have great conditions, pensions and perks for being completely inept. And yet, seemingly, nothing will change and they'll continue to get away with it. It's high time a something was in place for the residents of Worcestershire to have our say on how things are done and have an input, make all council staff accountable to the tax-payer and have the ability to say whether staff should be sacked if they continue to fail. After all, we are paying these staff through our council tax.[/p][/quote]We're supposed to have our say through our local councillors...but that's a whole different story... . And just to clarify, don't confuse the ordinary staff with some management/directors who are on over inflated salaries which they don't actually earn! Value for money? Not a cat in hell's chance. CJH
  • Score: 25

12:11pm Fri 8 Aug 14

Casmal says...

And to think some people are advocating joining all the Worcestershire Councils together and having a unitary authority!! One which would be even more remote from the majority of residents and much less accountable!!

Heads should roll for this. But they'll probably say it's because of funding shortages resulting in staff cuts, resulting in time pressures, so it's not their fault really!!! Doubtless they'll wriggle out of it somehow.
And to think some people are advocating joining all the Worcestershire Councils together and having a unitary authority!! One which would be even more remote from the majority of residents and much less accountable!! Heads should roll for this. But they'll probably say it's because of funding shortages resulting in staff cuts, resulting in time pressures, so it's not their fault really!!! Doubtless they'll wriggle out of it somehow. Casmal
  • Score: -3

12:31pm Fri 8 Aug 14

skychip says...

No-one will ever have to answer for this. They never have and never will (from my experience of working at County Hall) until someone in Central Government could look into it. Seems criminal when people are losing jobs. We shouldnt have to spend money on collecting data about traffic congestion - just walk around the City and you could see it for yourself.
No-one will ever have to answer for this. They never have and never will (from my experience of working at County Hall) until someone in Central Government could look into it. Seems criminal when people are losing jobs. We shouldnt have to spend money on collecting data about traffic congestion - just walk around the City and you could see it for yourself. skychip
  • Score: 5

12:38pm Fri 8 Aug 14

Casmal says...

And of course central Govt. won't investigate one of it's own Councils, will it?
And of course central Govt. won't investigate one of it's own Councils, will it? Casmal
  • Score: 1

1:02pm Fri 8 Aug 14

psieto says...

As a former employee, here are some of my observations, which I think have led to this mess.

The ruling Conservatives are very keen on 'commissioning' in-house services into the private/voluntary sectors, to reduce costs wherever possible. Adrian Hardman sets it all out in his "Corporate Plan".

Meanwhile, the majority of the staff (who have limited experience of commissioning, because they always did the bits that they are buying by themselves before) are being expected to buy in services with no training other than a quick discussion with a Procurement Officer who is too busy to talk to you or explain the process. You then get told to read reams of dry unending text with all the rules on it, and then you're off - you put together a tender and upload it and companies start to bid. If you've not got it right, you're stuffed.

Worst of all, the management (who are paid to oversee this kind of stuff) don't get involved, which I find utterly mental! If your staff are putting out a tenders for services which YOU manage, why the hell wouldn't you want to read it, in detail?!?! There are a LOT of managers at County Hall - they really don't do a lot, so it would be better to have less.

To be honest, the District councils are even worse (my former colleagues told me first hand!) so at least with a Unitary Council, you'd only have one layer of incompetence, and half as many Councillors...

To fix this, WCC needs a robust training programme for all of its staff, OR (I think this would be better) to develop a team of well trained professional procurement officers that do all the buying, so that delivery staff can focus on doing what they know how to do.
As a former employee, here are some of my observations, which I think have led to this mess. The ruling Conservatives are very keen on 'commissioning' in-house services into the private/voluntary sectors, to reduce costs wherever possible. Adrian Hardman sets it all out in his "Corporate Plan". Meanwhile, the majority of the staff (who have limited experience of commissioning, because they always did the bits that they are buying by themselves before) are being expected to buy in services with no training other than a quick discussion with a Procurement Officer who is too busy to talk to you or explain the process. You then get told to read reams of dry unending text with all the rules on it, and then you're off - you put together a tender and upload it and companies start to bid. If you've not got it right, you're stuffed. Worst of all, the management (who are paid to oversee this kind of stuff) don't get involved, which I find utterly mental! If your staff are putting out a tenders for services which YOU manage, why the hell wouldn't you want to read it, in detail?!?! There are a LOT of managers at County Hall - they really don't do a lot, so it would be better to have less. To be honest, the District councils are even worse (my former colleagues told me first hand!) so at least with a Unitary Council, you'd only have one layer of incompetence, and half as many Councillors... To fix this, WCC needs a robust training programme for all of its staff, OR (I think this would be better) to develop a team of well trained professional procurement officers that do all the buying, so that delivery staff can focus on doing what they know how to do. psieto
  • Score: 14

1:47pm Fri 8 Aug 14

3thinker says...

Casmal wrote:
And to think some people are advocating joining all the Worcestershire Councils together and having a unitary authority!! One which would be even more remote from the majority of residents and much less accountable!!

Heads should roll for this. But they'll probably say it's because of funding shortages resulting in staff cuts, resulting in time pressures, so it's not their fault really!!! Doubtless they'll wriggle out of it somehow.
They would be no more remote than they are now if a Unitary was formed. There would also be greater scope to get better deals with their suppliers if District and County needs were bundled together in larger packages.

Having a Unitary would make the remaining councillors more accountable.
[quote][p][bold]Casmal[/bold] wrote: And to think some people are advocating joining all the Worcestershire Councils together and having a unitary authority!! One which would be even more remote from the majority of residents and much less accountable!! Heads should roll for this. But they'll probably say it's because of funding shortages resulting in staff cuts, resulting in time pressures, so it's not their fault really!!! Doubtless they'll wriggle out of it somehow.[/p][/quote]They would be no more remote than they are now if a Unitary was formed. There would also be greater scope to get better deals with their suppliers if District and County needs were bundled together in larger packages. Having a Unitary would make the remaining councillors more accountable. 3thinker
  • Score: -2

1:49pm Fri 8 Aug 14

badge73 says...

now, let me see, if i had done this to either the dwp or hmrc then i would of been hauled up before the courts and possible prison sentence, named and shamed in the paper.

but because its council there seems to be different rules on that regard. one of the councillors with a back bone should be on the phone to the police and stick up for the taxpayer.
now, let me see, if i had done this to either the dwp or hmrc then i would of been hauled up before the courts and possible prison sentence, named and shamed in the paper. but because its council there seems to be different rules on that regard. one of the councillors with a back bone should be on the phone to the police and stick up for the taxpayer. badge73
  • Score: 1

4:35pm Fri 8 Aug 14

Doogie 46 says...

I suspect this is not something that is particular to this council - lack of proper financial control seems to be endemic in virtually all bodies funded by the Taxpayer. I think it shows that while cuts to public spending are necessary, the scale of devastation is not. I suspect the feeling among the Town Hall mandarins throughout the nation is that it is not in their "empire building" interests to make the cuts work.
Procurement carried out properly and policed properly will save public money and if you have a modicum of intelligence and people skills it is not difficult to learn how to do it - but it can be hard work and sometimes you need to "kick butt" - something that is second nature to the private sector but alien to the public sector. Until that changes waste will continue on a grand scale.
I suspect this is not something that is particular to this council - lack of proper financial control seems to be endemic in virtually all bodies funded by the Taxpayer. I think it shows that while cuts to public spending are necessary, the scale of devastation is not. I suspect the feeling among the Town Hall mandarins throughout the nation is that it is not in their "empire building" interests to make the cuts work. Procurement carried out properly and policed properly will save public money and if you have a modicum of intelligence and people skills it is not difficult to learn how to do it - but it can be hard work and sometimes you need to "kick butt" - something that is second nature to the private sector but alien to the public sector. Until that changes waste will continue on a grand scale. Doogie 46
  • Score: -1

7:03pm Fri 8 Aug 14

WorcsBornandBred says...

What we really need is a peoples council, made up of a mixture of workers from the public and private sectors, accountable and auditable, with, as someone mentioned before, a team of private sector trained procurement officers and teams.

A council should be run for the tax payers and the people who live in the county with services aligned to local requirements.
What we really need is a peoples council, made up of a mixture of workers from the public and private sectors, accountable and auditable, with, as someone mentioned before, a team of private sector trained procurement officers and teams. A council should be run for the tax payers and the people who live in the county with services aligned to local requirements. WorcsBornandBred
  • Score: -2

8:36am Sat 9 Aug 14

Casmal says...

3thinker wrote:
Casmal wrote:
And to think some people are advocating joining all the Worcestershire Councils together and having a unitary authority!! One which would be even more remote from the majority of residents and much less accountable!!

Heads should roll for this. But they'll probably say it's because of funding shortages resulting in staff cuts, resulting in time pressures, so it's not their fault really!!! Doubtless they'll wriggle out of it somehow.
They would be no more remote than they are now if a Unitary was formed. There would also be greater scope to get better deals with their suppliers if District and County needs were bundled together in larger packages.

Having a Unitary would make the remaining councillors more accountable.
"No more remote than they are now." Well, maybe not if you live in Worcester, but if you live in any other district, you may well, like me, have further to travel to get to meetings and council offices. Furthermore, whilst officers don't necessarily live in the district in which they work, they do at least have to travel to it every day, so are more likely to have knowledge of it.

"There would be greater scope to get better deals." Well, yes, theoretically, but look at the appalling deals WCC have agreed. That with regard to Envirosort, for example, which is a win, win situation for them and a lose, lose for WCC.

And precisely how would it make "the remaining cllrs." more accountable"? With them meeting further away from where the majority of people in Worcestershire live, there will be even fewer people going to meetings and learning what is going on and how their local cllrs. are behaving.

God knows it's difficult enough already. My three ward cllrs. either don't respond to emailed comments, or they're advised not to, so it's impossible to get further information on proposals and their views towards them. having had no response to two emails asking questions on a recent proposal, I hand delivered letters to their houses, through their letter boxes., as I had no way of knowing whether they had received them. Having tried to get answers for over a week and with the meeting just 24hrs away, it was the only option left to me. One responded she considered that "an invasion of privacy." I was supposed to put it through the post or internal mail. Both methods would have resulted in her getting my letter after the meeting at which the proposal was to be made and on which I might have wanted to address the meeting, depending on the answers I received to my questions. Quite how having meetings 30mns drive away as opposed to five would make these people more accountable is beyond me.
[quote][p][bold]3thinker[/bold] wrote: [quote][p][bold]Casmal[/bold] wrote: And to think some people are advocating joining all the Worcestershire Councils together and having a unitary authority!! One which would be even more remote from the majority of residents and much less accountable!! Heads should roll for this. But they'll probably say it's because of funding shortages resulting in staff cuts, resulting in time pressures, so it's not their fault really!!! Doubtless they'll wriggle out of it somehow.[/p][/quote]They would be no more remote than they are now if a Unitary was formed. There would also be greater scope to get better deals with their suppliers if District and County needs were bundled together in larger packages. Having a Unitary would make the remaining councillors more accountable.[/p][/quote]"No more remote than they are now." Well, maybe not if you live in Worcester, but if you live in any other district, you may well, like me, have further to travel to get to meetings and council offices. Furthermore, whilst officers don't necessarily live in the district in which they work, they do at least have to travel to it every day, so are more likely to have knowledge of it. "There would be greater scope to get better deals." Well, yes, theoretically, but look at the appalling deals WCC have agreed. That with regard to Envirosort, for example, which is a win, win situation for them and a lose, lose for WCC. And precisely how would it make "the remaining cllrs." more accountable"? With them meeting further away from where the majority of people in Worcestershire live, there will be even fewer people going to meetings and learning what is going on and how their local cllrs. are behaving. God knows it's difficult enough already. My three ward cllrs. either don't respond to emailed comments, or they're advised not to, so it's impossible to get further information on proposals and their views towards them. having had no response to two emails asking questions on a recent proposal, I hand delivered letters to their houses, through their letter boxes., as I had no way of knowing whether they had received them. Having tried to get answers for over a week and with the meeting just 24hrs away, it was the only option left to me. One responded she considered that "an invasion of privacy." I was supposed to put it through the post or internal mail. Both methods would have resulted in her getting my letter after the meeting at which the proposal was to be made and on which I might have wanted to address the meeting, depending on the answers I received to my questions. Quite how having meetings 30mns drive away as opposed to five would make these people more accountable is beyond me. Casmal
  • Score: -3

8:44am Sat 9 Aug 14

imustbeoldiwearacap says...

It was my understanding that the reason we paid the chief executive of WCC more than the PM was so that we got the best for the job - hmmmmm! I think we need to re-evaluate the salaries of the executive team!
It was my understanding that the reason we paid the chief executive of WCC more than the PM was so that we got the best for the job - hmmmmm! I think we need to re-evaluate the salaries of the executive team! imustbeoldiwearacap
  • Score: 4

9:55pm Sat 9 Aug 14

Perfman says...

Typical local government shambles - try looking into the NHS 'sad excuse' for management as well.... This country could save £1b's if only we could boot the incompetent idiots from management...
Typical local government shambles - try looking into the NHS 'sad excuse' for management as well.... This country could save £1b's if only we could boot the incompetent idiots from management... Perfman
  • Score: 3

11:05pm Sat 9 Aug 14

Phil Oliver says...

There is another example of financial mis-management by the county council. This is the contract for the construction of the waste incinerator. Incineration is the most expensive method of treating waste and the facility will have a working life of 25 years. There are treatment methods with lower capital costs and lower gate fees. The council could go for short term contracts which would allow it to respond changes in the amount and type of waste and to government legislation. However the council stuck stubbornly to incineration even to the extent of borrowing the money for construction rather than Mercia Waste having to raise the loan. This means that the risk of default has been transferred from a commercial company to the council or should that be council tax payers. But this no surprise in the light of the report in the Worcester News
There is another example of financial mis-management by the county council. This is the contract for the construction of the waste incinerator. Incineration is the most expensive method of treating waste and the facility will have a working life of 25 years. There are treatment methods with lower capital costs and lower gate fees. The council could go for short term contracts which would allow it to respond changes in the amount and type of waste and to government legislation. However the council stuck stubbornly to incineration even to the extent of borrowing the money for construction rather than Mercia Waste having to raise the loan. This means that the risk of default has been transferred from a commercial company to the council or should that be council tax payers. But this no surprise in the light of the report in the Worcester News Phil Oliver
  • Score: -2

10:59pm Sun 10 Aug 14

Phil Oliver says...

There is an astonishing example of overspending in the county council in the Budget Summary Report for 2013/14. In the section “Waste PFI Contract”, there is an overspend on consultants and legal fees of £828,760 which is around 20 times more than the annual budget. So the council zealously cuts the youth services budget to nil, slashes spending on the homeless and warden services to the elderly etc., but are happy to throw money at their prestige project.
There is an astonishing example of overspending in the county council in the Budget Summary Report for 2013/14. In the section “Waste PFI Contract”, there is an overspend on consultants and legal fees of £828,760 which is around 20 times more than the annual budget. So the council zealously cuts the youth services budget to nil, slashes spending on the homeless and warden services to the elderly etc., but are happy to throw money at their prestige project. Phil Oliver
  • Score: 2

11:48pm Sun 10 Aug 14

Casmal says...

Phil Oliver wrote:
There is another example of financial mis-management by the county council. This is the contract for the construction of the waste incinerator. Incineration is the most expensive method of treating waste and the facility will have a working life of 25 years. There are treatment methods with lower capital costs and lower gate fees. The council could go for short term contracts which would allow it to respond changes in the amount and type of waste and to government legislation. However the council stuck stubbornly to incineration even to the extent of borrowing the money for construction rather than Mercia Waste having to raise the loan. This means that the risk of default has been transferred from a commercial company to the council or should that be council tax payers. But this no surprise in the light of the report in the Worcester News
Absolutely spot on. So, totally agree, but the minus votes you have received for this suggests that political forces are at work on this website again. Shame.
[quote][p][bold]Phil Oliver[/bold] wrote: There is another example of financial mis-management by the county council. This is the contract for the construction of the waste incinerator. Incineration is the most expensive method of treating waste and the facility will have a working life of 25 years. There are treatment methods with lower capital costs and lower gate fees. The council could go for short term contracts which would allow it to respond changes in the amount and type of waste and to government legislation. However the council stuck stubbornly to incineration even to the extent of borrowing the money for construction rather than Mercia Waste having to raise the loan. This means that the risk of default has been transferred from a commercial company to the council or should that be council tax payers. But this no surprise in the light of the report in the Worcester News[/p][/quote]Absolutely spot on. So, totally agree, but the minus votes you have received for this suggests that political forces are at work on this website again. Shame. Casmal
  • Score: 0

11:35am Mon 11 Aug 14

brooksider says...

Phil Oliver wrote:
There is an astonishing example of overspending in the county council in the Budget Summary Report for 2013/14. In the section “Waste PFI Contract”, there is an overspend on consultants and legal fees of £828,760 which is around 20 times more than the annual budget. So the council zealously cuts the youth services budget to nil, slashes spending on the homeless and warden services to the elderly etc., but are happy to throw money at their prestige project.
The PFI contract that was refused because even the Government could see it was bad value!
It is shameful that Councillors from every party voted virtually en bloc for this white elephant.
[quote][p][bold]Phil Oliver[/bold] wrote: There is an astonishing example of overspending in the county council in the Budget Summary Report for 2013/14. In the section “Waste PFI Contract”, there is an overspend on consultants and legal fees of £828,760 which is around 20 times more than the annual budget. So the council zealously cuts the youth services budget to nil, slashes spending on the homeless and warden services to the elderly etc., but are happy to throw money at their prestige project.[/p][/quote]The PFI contract that was refused because even the Government could see it was bad value! It is shameful that Councillors from every party voted virtually en bloc for this white elephant. brooksider
  • Score: 1

7:57pm Tue 12 Aug 14

oldTony says...

Not surprised by any of this - the 'Ellwoods Limited' mentioned is actually one person, who's been working there as a project manager for 10 years! Complete opposite of what Councillor Campion says. And before all you 'privateers' start saying that it's because the council needs more people with private sector experience, take a look at the CVs of the managers who've done most of the recruitment of consultants - private sector mostly, and usually employing people they already know!
Not surprised by any of this - the 'Ellwoods Limited' mentioned is actually one person, who's been working there as a project manager for 10 years! Complete opposite of what Councillor Campion says. And before all you 'privateers' start saying that it's because the council needs more people with private sector experience, take a look at the CVs of the managers who've done most of the recruitment of consultants - private sector mostly, and usually employing people they already know! oldTony
  • Score: 10

7:32am Wed 13 Aug 14

green49 says...

oldTony says...

Not surprised by any of this - the 'Ellwoods Limited' mentioned is actually one person, who's been working there as a project manager for 10 years! Complete opposite of what Councillor Campion says. And before all you 'privateers' start saying that it's because the council needs more people with private sector experience, take a look at the CVs of the managers who've done most of the recruitment of consultants - private sector mostly, and usually employing people they already know!

I have been telling everyone of the incompetance of the managers and top paid idiots on the WCC for ages, its tory run and as old tony says,,,,,above, they come from the Private sector, i work with the councils but i am not employed by them, seen it first hand and CJH also knows it too, the main staff person i deal with at county hall is excellent at the job but has now had enough of this TORY crap led set up, Haardman should be sacked along with his mates.
oldTony says... Not surprised by any of this - the 'Ellwoods Limited' mentioned is actually one person, who's been working there as a project manager for 10 years! Complete opposite of what Councillor Campion says. And before all you 'privateers' start saying that it's because the council needs more people with private sector experience, take a look at the CVs of the managers who've done most of the recruitment of consultants - private sector mostly, and usually employing people they already know! I have been telling everyone of the incompetance of the managers and top paid idiots on the WCC for ages, its tory run and as old tony says,,,,,above, they come from the Private sector, i work with the councils but i am not employed by them, seen it first hand and CJH also knows it too, the main staff person i deal with at county hall is excellent at the job but has now had enough of this TORY crap led set up, Haardman should be sacked along with his mates. green49
  • Score: 8

9:29am Wed 13 Aug 14

lucky2bhere says...

I'm staggered- if a fraction of the report is accurate- that this hasn't been picked up before by auditors, and by councillors accountable for oversight of financial matters. As a former unpaid volunteer working in the management of education, I worked with volunteer colleagues, auditors, the council and paid staff to oversee tenders, recruitment, and accounting, and I just cant get my head round the thought that people at the council, in paid posts, were unaware or seemingly did not recognise and act within the requirements for tendering. Those were pretty explicit in the organisation I worked in. Is this a case that could be referred to the Local Government ombudsman or some such if they still exist? And is this potentially maladministration that requires forensic investigation?
I'm staggered- if a fraction of the report is accurate- that this hasn't been picked up before by auditors, and by councillors accountable for oversight of financial matters. As a former unpaid volunteer working in the management of education, I worked with volunteer colleagues, auditors, the council and paid staff to oversee tenders, recruitment, and accounting, and I just cant get my head round the thought that people at the council, in paid posts, were unaware or seemingly did not recognise and act within the requirements for tendering. Those were pretty explicit in the organisation I worked in. Is this a case that could be referred to the Local Government ombudsman or some such if they still exist? And is this potentially maladministration that requires forensic investigation? lucky2bhere
  • Score: 1

11:06am Wed 13 Aug 14

trigg70 says...

Call me cynical but is this a case of getting the bad news out of the way before an election. Have they released this themselves rather than being found out I wonder.
Call me cynical but is this a case of getting the bad news out of the way before an election. Have they released this themselves rather than being found out I wonder. trigg70
  • Score: 2

10:21pm Wed 13 Aug 14

F1 Dave says...

WCC are outsourcing they Property Design services right now to a private company.
In there own cabinet report WCC stated it would not save any money in outsourcing this service.
Bet the Private company will charge more for the services, costing the Tax payer more for the service. What is going on !!!!
WCC are outsourcing they Property Design services right now to a private company. In there own cabinet report WCC stated it would not save any money in outsourcing this service. Bet the Private company will charge more for the services, costing the Tax payer more for the service. What is going on !!!! F1 Dave
  • Score: 3

10:42pm Wed 13 Aug 14

3thinker says...

F1 Dave wrote:
WCC are outsourcing they Property Design services right now to a private company.
In there own cabinet report WCC stated it would not save any money in outsourcing this service.
Bet the Private company will charge more for the services, costing the Tax payer more for the service. What is going on !!!!
What company would outsource part of its operations if it didn't save money and increased the risk of reduced control and potential future savings.

Serious questions need to be asked of those who are elected to represent our, the taxers best interests.
[quote][p][bold]F1 Dave[/bold] wrote: WCC are outsourcing they Property Design services right now to a private company. In there own cabinet report WCC stated it would not save any money in outsourcing this service. Bet the Private company will charge more for the services, costing the Tax payer more for the service. What is going on !!!![/p][/quote]What company would outsource part of its operations if it didn't save money and increased the risk of reduced control and potential future savings. Serious questions need to be asked of those who are elected to represent our, the taxers best interests. 3thinker
  • Score: 2

9:07pm Thu 14 Aug 14

Bodger&Badger says...

skychip wrote:
No-one will ever have to answer for this. They never have and never will (from my experience of working at County Hall) until someone in Central Government could look into it. Seems criminal when people are losing jobs. We shouldnt have to spend money on collecting data about traffic congestion - just walk around the City and you could see it for yourself.
yes problem is looking at traffic congestion doesn't really give you the numerical data to get Government funding to alleviate these issues.

You can't really say to the Department for Transport, yeah it's pretty bad, much worse than Central London/Birmingham/Ma
nchester. You need to quantify in terms of time delay as a minimum, to assign a benefit cost. To make sure that the limited cash is spent appropriately to get the most benefit. Simple concept really.
[quote][p][bold]skychip[/bold] wrote: No-one will ever have to answer for this. They never have and never will (from my experience of working at County Hall) until someone in Central Government could look into it. Seems criminal when people are losing jobs. We shouldnt have to spend money on collecting data about traffic congestion - just walk around the City and you could see it for yourself.[/p][/quote]yes problem is looking at traffic congestion doesn't really give you the numerical data to get Government funding to alleviate these issues. You can't really say to the Department for Transport, yeah it's pretty bad, much worse than Central London/Birmingham/Ma nchester. You need to quantify in terms of time delay as a minimum, to assign a benefit cost. To make sure that the limited cash is spent appropriately to get the most benefit. Simple concept really. Bodger&Badger
  • Score: 1

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