New row over consultants at county

A FURIOUS new row has broken out at Endeavour House after it emerged Suffolk County Council wants to pay up to �122,000 to three consultancy and training firms – without putting contracts out to tender.

Members of the county’s cabinet are being asked to approve an exemption from the normal rules to allow the contracts to be signed quickly.

The consultants would help draw up plans for the Conservative-run council to reorganise itself in an attempt to become more efficient – which could lead to fewer jobs.

Opposition leader Kathy Pollard said the Liberal Democrats said there was no clear indication of what the money would be spent on. She said: “The cabinet is being asked to exempt itself from the normal rules of competitive tendering but it is far from clear what the purpose of the spending will be – or why it has to be agreed so quickly.

“It is outrageous that this level of spending is being proposed with no explanation. We assume this is about streamlining the organisation. The county council has already spent hundreds of thousands of pounds with external consultants, trying to improve efficiency within the council.

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“After five years they seem to be no further forward.

“This is no way to run a business, let alone a county council. In private industry you would need a business case to justify this level of spend, and you would certainly want to know what you were getting for your money.” The council wants to pay Scintillate Business Ltd between �40,000 and �50,000, Fields of Learning �21,000 to �42,000 and DNA Consultancy between �15,000 and �30,000.

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A council spokeswoman said: “Suffolk is committed to delivering great services and value for money. In the last four years it has delivered �70million of savings that has allowed us to set the lowest ever rise in council tax for the last two consecutive years.

“The whole public sector is now facing an unprecedented financial position of falling income yet coping with rising demands.

“If we don’t change now we will be forced to look at possibly reducing frontline services. This investment at this stage will therefore allow us to speed up our internal reforms and provide us with additional temporary expertise.”

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