FoI probe reveals consultancy costs

By Sarah Lagan

Opposition councillors have called for a review on consultancy
spending following an investigation into Tory-controlled Norfolk County
Council by the Evening News in Norwich.

The paper used the Freedom of Information Act to reveal that the council had spent more than £6.5m on consultants’

fees in the past two years and that spending decisions were often taken outside of the councillors’ review panels.

Liberal
Democrat group leader Barbara Hacker said: “I would like to see wider
discussion within the council. It is irresponsible to spend millions of
pounds of taxpayers’ money on consultants if real benefits to the
public are not achieved.”

The Evening News said £6.5m was a “conservative estimate” as costs under £10,000 could not be released.

Politics
reporter Lewis Hannam added: “It’s taxpayers’ money that is being spent
so councillors should have more of an impact. The issue was raised at a
scrutiny meeting and hopefully it is something councillors will look
closer at. It’s a case of wait and see until the next budget.”

A
council spokesman told the Evening News: “There was no set financial
threshold to which consultancy projects had to get councillor approval,
but that deals were always tendered in the public domain before being
agreed.

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