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£7m consultant fee claim sparks upset
9:00am Tuesday 1st May 2012 in News
Millions of pounds of taxpayer’s cash is going on consultants employed by Bradford Council, it has been revealed, as another election row breaks out between politicians.
Bradford West MP George Galloway claimed £7 million was ending up in the pockets of “fat cat consultants” and said that any Respect councillors elected after people go to the polls on Thursday “would do all in their power to root out waste and corruption”.
In response, Bradford Council leader Ian Greenwood said that under Labour Bradford has “for the first time established and published online a clear picture of expenditure on consultants after years of Tory mismanagement of the Council’s finances.”
He said that Mr Galloway had nothing new to offer beyond what was already being done and said that if he had any evidence of corruption, as he has alleged, he should alert the police and the Council immediately.
“It is a very serious allegation to make,” said Coun Greenwood.
“If, as I suspect, he has no such evidence then he should stop his rhetoric and posturing although I know that he will find that very difficult to do.
“We’ll continue to keep the use of consultants under close scrutiny but the actual Council contribution to their use last year was £2.8m not £7m.
“The balance is made up by Government contributions towards things they require us to do in a short space of time and which often need specialist skills.”
Mr Galloway said he would move to scrap the use of consultants if his party enjoyed election success.
“We will do everything in our power to hold a bonfire of the consultants, rather than the present situation where the Council is burning money,” Mr Galloway said.
“It is completely unjustified and an insult to council tax payers struggling to pay their way that this obscene amount of cash ends up in the pockets of fat cat consultants.
“Council services are being slashed at a time when vast sums are being paid out to these companies. This money needs to be invested in the city, for the benefit of the city, rather than boosting the balance sheets of private companies.”
The Council’s Conservative group leader, Councillor Glen Miller, said he agreed too much was being spent, while Liberal Democrat Councillor Jeanette Sunderland said she wanted to know where Mr Galloway got the £7m figure from. Coun MIller said: “The use of consultants is an easy way of getting answers. I think it is a big expense for the taxpayer to be spending extra money on consultants if you see little return for the money spent.”
Coun Sunderland said: “It is good if they want to stop the use of consultants. I would like to see the evidence, but the principle is that we should always challenge unnecessary spending.”
Mr Galloway’s spokesman said his figures came from the Council and showed more than £2 million was spent by its culture and regeneration departments alone.
- On Thursday two Bradford Council-run leisure centres will be closed temporarily to be used as venues for counting votes in the local elections.