Basildon Council's £720,000 bill.. in bid to save cash

Basildon Recorder: Labour leader Nigel Smith outside the Basildon Centre Labour leader Nigel Smith outside the Basildon Centre

BASILDON Council spent more than £720,000 on consultants... to help it work out how to save cash.

Horrified opposition councillors and campaigners hit out at a “gravy train” culture at the Tory authority.

The council defended the move saying the big spend on the council’s so-called Transformation Agenda had put the authority on track to save £4.4million.

Part of this saving will see the council’s workforce reduce by a fifth, about 200 staff.

Nigel Smith, leader of the opposition Labour Party, said: “The amount is unacceptably high. It has created a gravy train for private developers. Why can’t this be done in-house? I’m not convinced they get the right advice anyway.

“If I sell my home, I have to go to an estate agent. I don’t go to a consultant to find me an estate agent, do I?”

The council has spent £1.5million on consultancy firms, for major projects, over the past two years. The authority insists the expertise was not available inhouse.

Yet the council paid £1million to its ten most senior officials last year and Mr Smith believes the authority should use some of this expertise, not costly outsiders.

The Echo obtained the numbers following a Freedom of Information request and Mr Smith called for the figures to be made publicly available.

In 2012/13, the council spent £926,141 on consultants, and £608,304 so far in 2013/14. It adds up to about £4,203 a day for taxpayers.

The figures include a total of £727,911 over the two years on its Transformation Agenda – a programme council leader Tony Ball admitted would see his workforce shrink by one fifth.

Robert Oxley, campaign director for the Taxpayers’ Alliance, said: “Consultants brought into save cash and change the way the council works should be paid by results, not paid huge lump sums up front. Councils need to cut wasteful spending, not splurge more cash on expensive outside help when residents already pay a fortune for staff.”

A council spokesman said: “Major change or regeneration projects may need to draw on expert advice quickly, to ensure the best outcomes, but those skills may only be required for the duration of, or part of, the project.

“It would not be a good use of taxpayers’ money to appoint staff to cover this need, as once the project has been delivered, that skill may no longer be needed.”

 

Advice on 'contentious projects'

THE Tory authority spent £1.5million in less than two years on consultants, who were drafted in to help with contentious projects.

They were sent in to help with the £1billion Basildon Town Centre Masterplan, designed to transform the town’s flagging shops.

It has cost £311,887 – but when rubberstamping the ambitious plans, the council insisted it would not cost the taxpayer.

A council spokesman said: “Our town centre consultants provide us with expert advice on areas the council does not need to employ staff full time for.”

It also insisted profit from the masterplan should ensure there was no cost to Basildon taxpayers.

A further £159,525 was spent trying to shift land at Ballards Walk to a developer, including paying thousands of pounds to a firm to draw up a planning application.

The land is being sold to developers to help pay for the Sporting Village, in Gloucester Park.

The spokesman added: “To ensure the optimum capital reciept was achieved for the site, it was necessary to appoint professional advisers to prepare and submit an outline planning application.

"The council cannot submit planning applications itself.”

 

£700,000 spent on programme to axe 200 staff

BASILDON Council admitted that while its Transformation Programme was engineered towards saving cash, it did have other aims.

The Tory administration has come under fire after it emerged it has spent more than £700,000 on consultants to help put together the programme, which will see up to 200 staff leave the authority.

A council spokesman said: “Whilst delivering efficiencies is an important part of the programme given the challenging position of the council, it is not the only object of the programme.

“The Customer Experience Programme has delivered a new customer service centre, including a modern, remodelled reception.

“This is already helping to improve the experience of our customers in dealing with the council.”

The authority also said the programme involved installing a new website and telephone system, as well as retraining staff.

It also insisted it has made savings of several million pounds, and despite this frontline services have been unaffected.

The spokesman added: “Consultants are used to provide flexibility where there is a specific need, but where it would not be economic to recruit additional staff."

 

 

Comments (17)

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3:32pm Sat 25 Jan 14

Discouraged says...

For this man to talk about a gravy train is taking the p@@@. His wife got tens of thousands towards a flat in London which he shares. The council tax was claimed twice and had to be paid back and £315 was claimed for a tv licence which is more than 2 homes have to pay.We let these people have their little bit of power with all its perks and look what they have done.I can't think of anyone I would vote for.
For this man to talk about a gravy train is taking the p@@@. His wife got tens of thousands towards a flat in London which he shares. The council tax was claimed twice and had to be paid back and £315 was claimed for a tv licence which is more than 2 homes have to pay.We let these people have their little bit of power with all its perks and look what they have done.I can't think of anyone I would vote for. Discouraged
  • Score: 9

4:48pm Sat 25 Jan 14

Keptquiettillnow says...

Best get used to head lines like this. More and more tax payers money ending up in the pockets of private companies.
Best get used to head lines like this. More and more tax payers money ending up in the pockets of private companies. Keptquiettillnow
  • Score: 4

5:13pm Sat 25 Jan 14

the25man says...

Why have in house people not able to carry out the work they should be doing. So get rid of them to pay our moneys to private Consultants that only do exactly asked of them and only that
Why have in house people not able to carry out the work they should be doing. So get rid of them to pay our moneys to private Consultants that only do exactly asked of them and only that the25man
  • Score: 4

5:20pm Sat 25 Jan 14

Nebs says...

If I sell my home, I have to go to an estate agent. I don’t go to a consultant to find me an estate agent, do I?
If you have a house worth several millions then, yes, you may. The money they will negotiate off the agents fees will more than pay for their fees.
If I sell my home, I have to go to an estate agent. I don’t go to a consultant to find me an estate agent, do I? If you have a house worth several millions then, yes, you may. The money they will negotiate off the agents fees will more than pay for their fees. Nebs
  • Score: 1

5:23pm Sat 25 Jan 14

runwellian says...

I think I would become a 'consultant', best paid job for doing very little
I think I would become a 'consultant', best paid job for doing very little runwellian
  • Score: 1

5:24pm Sat 25 Jan 14

Howard Cháse says...

Mates rates.
Mates rates. Howard Cháse
  • Score: 5

11:06pm Sat 25 Jan 14

Devils Advocate says...

"It also insisted profit from the master plan should ensure there was no cost to Basildon taxpayers."
Except perhaps, to the land those tax payers (In Basildon at least) have paid rates for around 50-60 years and elected councils to care for that public land, which they are now making money from.
I sometimes am led to wonder if, even with the laws regarding their interest in firms they do business with, whether there is some vested interest in those companies. Far from making their own decisions it seems as if they need someone to tell them when and how to go to the toilet. Exactly why do we need such highly paid councillors if they need a decision-making firm to tell them how?
"It also insisted profit from the master plan should ensure there was no cost to Basildon taxpayers." Except perhaps, to the land those tax payers (In Basildon at least) have paid rates for around 50-60 years and elected councils to care for that public land, which they are now making money from. I sometimes am led to wonder if, even with the laws regarding their interest in firms they do business with, whether there is some vested interest in those companies. Far from making their own decisions it seems as if they need someone to tell them when and how to go to the toilet. Exactly why do we need such highly paid councillors if they need a decision-making firm to tell them how? Devils Advocate
  • Score: 1

8:45am Sun 26 Jan 14

shallotman says...

Great coming from the party that bankrupted the country.
Great coming from the party that bankrupted the country. shallotman
  • Score: 2

4:16pm Sun 26 Jan 14

Devils Advocate says...

shallotman wrote:
Great coming from the party that bankrupted the country.
You still believe that? What, you think this government is printing money for all this local building? Do you really think building the new railways comes from shirt buttons?
The western world suddenly tumbled down a chasm, the UK lefties threw a life-line of money from our now empty pot at the worst hit countries and yet through all that disaster the better off in our society have not gone from riches to even more riches.
In the world of the conspiracy theorists this is exactly as predicted. More worrying in the light of that is the fact that, according to the theorists, the Elite society of the UK and USA (and others), the world needs to lose some 80% of its population for those people to continue their way of life. If that happens, it will be interesting to see how you will blame "Yer Darling 'Arold" for that too!"
Not forgetting the two parties now in power did nothing to earn their money when they were in opposition.
[quote][p][bold]shallotman[/bold] wrote: Great coming from the party that bankrupted the country.[/p][/quote]You still believe that? What, you think this government is printing money for all this local building? Do you really think building the new railways comes from shirt buttons? The western world suddenly tumbled down a chasm, the UK lefties threw a life-line of money from our now empty pot at the worst hit countries and yet through all that disaster the better off in our society have not gone from riches to even more riches. In the world of the conspiracy theorists this is exactly as predicted. More worrying in the light of that is the fact that, according to the theorists, the Elite society of the UK and USA (and others), the world needs to lose some 80% of its population for those people to continue their way of life. If that happens, it will be interesting to see how you will blame "Yer Darling 'Arold" for that too!" Not forgetting the two parties now in power did nothing to earn their money when they were in opposition. Devils Advocate
  • Score: 3

6:40pm Sun 26 Jan 14

Discouraged says...

This man's wife knows all about "the gravy train" £6300 for 20 days attendance at the House of Lords in July.Nice to have a bit of holiday money.
This man's wife knows all about "the gravy train" £6300 for 20 days attendance at the House of Lords in July.Nice to have a bit of holiday money. Discouraged
  • Score: 1

1:01am Mon 27 Jan 14

Kim Gandy says...

Discouraged wrote:
For this man to talk about a gravy train is taking the p@@@. His wife got tens of thousands towards a flat in London which he shares. The council tax was claimed twice and had to be paid back and £315 was claimed for a tv licence which is more than 2 homes have to pay.We let these people have their little bit of power with all its perks and look what they have done.I can't think of anyone I would vote for.
Don't forget the £300-a-pop attendance fee "Baroness" Ange of Vange gets every time she attends the House of Lords.

I am no fan of the Tories. In my opinion ALL political parties suck but it really takes the pee when the Smiths criticise others' maladministration, spending or otherwise, when the biggest travesty of all was the 13 years this Labour lot were in power, squandering, spending and wasting other people's money willy nilly and selling off the family silver to all comers and selling out their 'Socialist principles right left and centre.

The last thing we ever need is a lefty telling us all how it should be. We KNOW how it should be and how it SHOULD be is NOT run by lefties. No lefty should be let loose anywhere in local or national government.

They are all toxic. Each and every one. And Blue Labour are no better. The least said about the LimpDums the better. All rotten to the core, with one or two exceptions. As for UKIP, they also need Rentokil to get rid of some UAF pests who are spoiling it for everybody else.

Preaching the moral high ground Nigel Smith - I don't think so.

Sometime soon this man and his cronies at Bas Towers need to look up the word "hypocrisy" and then take a long hard look in the mirror before gushing forth.

The sooner the lot of them got off their butts and stop sniping at each other and actually got on with serving the public, the better.
[quote][p][bold]Discouraged[/bold] wrote: For this man to talk about a gravy train is taking the p@@@. His wife got tens of thousands towards a flat in London which he shares. The council tax was claimed twice and had to be paid back and £315 was claimed for a tv licence which is more than 2 homes have to pay.We let these people have their little bit of power with all its perks and look what they have done.I can't think of anyone I would vote for.[/p][/quote]Don't forget the £300-a-pop attendance fee "Baroness" Ange of Vange gets every time she attends the House of Lords. I am no fan of the Tories. In my opinion ALL political parties suck but it really takes the pee when the Smiths criticise others' maladministration, spending or otherwise, when the biggest travesty of all was the 13 years this Labour lot were in power, squandering, spending and wasting other people's money willy nilly and selling off the family silver to all comers and selling out their 'Socialist principles right left and centre. The last thing we ever need is a lefty telling us all how it should be. We KNOW how it should be and how it SHOULD be is NOT run by lefties. No lefty should be let loose anywhere in local or national government. They are all toxic. Each and every one. And Blue Labour are no better. The least said about the LimpDums the better. All rotten to the core, with one or two exceptions. As for UKIP, they also need Rentokil to get rid of some UAF pests who are spoiling it for everybody else. Preaching the moral high ground Nigel Smith - I don't think so. Sometime soon this man and his cronies at Bas Towers need to look up the word "hypocrisy" and then take a long hard look in the mirror before gushing forth. The sooner the lot of them got off their butts and stop sniping at each other and actually got on with serving the public, the better. Kim Gandy
  • Score: 3

3:55pm Mon 27 Jan 14

Devils Advocate says...

Kim Gandy wrote:
Discouraged wrote:
For this man to talk about a gravy train is taking the p@@@. His wife got tens of thousands towards a flat in London which he shares. The council tax was claimed twice and had to be paid back and £315 was claimed for a tv licence which is more than 2 homes have to pay.We let these people have their little bit of power with all its perks and look what they have done.I can't think of anyone I would vote for.
Don't forget the £300-a-pop attendance fee "Baroness" Ange of Vange gets every time she attends the House of Lords.

I am no fan of the Tories. In my opinion ALL political parties suck but it really takes the pee when the Smiths criticise others' maladministration, spending or otherwise, when the biggest travesty of all was the 13 years this Labour lot were in power, squandering, spending and wasting other people's money willy nilly and selling off the family silver to all comers and selling out their 'Socialist principles right left and centre.

The last thing we ever need is a lefty telling us all how it should be. We KNOW how it should be and how it SHOULD be is NOT run by lefties. No lefty should be let loose anywhere in local or national government.

They are all toxic. Each and every one. And Blue Labour are no better. The least said about the LimpDums the better. All rotten to the core, with one or two exceptions. As for UKIP, they also need Rentokil to get rid of some UAF pests who are spoiling it for everybody else.

Preaching the moral high ground Nigel Smith - I don't think so.

Sometime soon this man and his cronies at Bas Towers need to look up the word "hypocrisy" and then take a long hard look in the mirror before gushing forth.

The sooner the lot of them got off their butts and stop sniping at each other and actually got on with serving the public, the better.
Being as the Labour party locally have not had power for quite a few years now, it is somewhat amazing to see how much vitriol you apply to them. I moved from Laindon to Basildon in 1966 and was glad to become part of a dynamic new town with facilities second to none, recreational facilities especially, with the trim track and the swimming pool etc. it was nearly a pleasure to pay my rates, and get a return for them. Then the right-wing took over. they opened the broadside with charging for car-parking in the town centre. The first death-blow.
The sell off of housing has led directly to the majority of the central area being sold to Rachman-like landlords, whose minimal maintenance of their properties has led to the collapsing properties we now see. The privatised garages we rent are now looking like something like the dwellings in Soweto! Lastly, The parks. You blame Labour for "Selling off the family silver" but, do you not think this is our family jewels? If not our land then what is? You scarcely post without the word "Lefty" but you never mention the upside of that group. Are you merely an advert for the right proving the need for "The truth, "The WHOLE truth, and nothing but the truth, because, for every single cheat on the left that gets highly publicised, the right can match with at least three of theirs. Why are you so single-minded?
[quote][p][bold]Kim Gandy[/bold] wrote: [quote][p][bold]Discouraged[/bold] wrote: For this man to talk about a gravy train is taking the p@@@. His wife got tens of thousands towards a flat in London which he shares. The council tax was claimed twice and had to be paid back and £315 was claimed for a tv licence which is more than 2 homes have to pay.We let these people have their little bit of power with all its perks and look what they have done.I can't think of anyone I would vote for.[/p][/quote]Don't forget the £300-a-pop attendance fee "Baroness" Ange of Vange gets every time she attends the House of Lords. I am no fan of the Tories. In my opinion ALL political parties suck but it really takes the pee when the Smiths criticise others' maladministration, spending or otherwise, when the biggest travesty of all was the 13 years this Labour lot were in power, squandering, spending and wasting other people's money willy nilly and selling off the family silver to all comers and selling out their 'Socialist principles right left and centre. The last thing we ever need is a lefty telling us all how it should be. We KNOW how it should be and how it SHOULD be is NOT run by lefties. No lefty should be let loose anywhere in local or national government. They are all toxic. Each and every one. And Blue Labour are no better. The least said about the LimpDums the better. All rotten to the core, with one or two exceptions. As for UKIP, they also need Rentokil to get rid of some UAF pests who are spoiling it for everybody else. Preaching the moral high ground Nigel Smith - I don't think so. Sometime soon this man and his cronies at Bas Towers need to look up the word "hypocrisy" and then take a long hard look in the mirror before gushing forth. The sooner the lot of them got off their butts and stop sniping at each other and actually got on with serving the public, the better.[/p][/quote]Being as the Labour party locally have not had power for quite a few years now, it is somewhat amazing to see how much vitriol you apply to them. I moved from Laindon to Basildon in 1966 and was glad to become part of a dynamic new town with facilities second to none, recreational facilities especially, with the trim track and the swimming pool etc. it was nearly a pleasure to pay my rates, and get a return for them. Then the right-wing took over. they opened the broadside with charging for car-parking in the town centre. The first death-blow. The sell off of housing has led directly to the majority of the central area being sold to Rachman-like landlords, whose minimal maintenance of their properties has led to the collapsing properties we now see. The privatised garages we rent are now looking like something like the dwellings in Soweto! Lastly, The parks. You blame Labour for "Selling off the family silver" but, do you not think this is our family jewels? If not our land then what is? You scarcely post without the word "Lefty" but you never mention the upside of that group. Are you merely an advert for the right proving the need for "The truth, "The WHOLE truth, and nothing but the truth, because, for every single cheat on the left that gets highly publicised, the right can match with at least three of theirs. Why are you so single-minded? Devils Advocate
  • Score: 3

6:50pm Mon 27 Jan 14

Kim Gandy says...

Nigel Smith blasts the Tories for wasting money on consultants yet his own Government spent £1.8bn on consultants in its last full year of administration, 2009.

Yet more hypocrisy from the ever-whinging Basildon Labour group. Time to put up or shut up eh? Typical lefties: don't do as I do, do as I say...
Nigel Smith blasts the Tories for wasting money on consultants yet his own Government spent £1.8bn on consultants in its last full year of administration, 2009. Yet more hypocrisy from the ever-whinging Basildon Labour group. Time to put up or shut up eh? Typical lefties: don't do as I do, do as I say... Kim Gandy
  • Score: -1

8:57pm Mon 27 Jan 14

Devils Advocate says...

My word Kim, you are so right!
My word Kim, you are so right! Devils Advocate
  • Score: 1

7:57am Wed 29 Jan 14

Kim Gandy says...

Devils Advocate wrote:
My word Kim, you are so right!
Yes I am aren't I? Try researching and you will find out for yourself.

If you actually spent more time researching the stuff you read on here you will find I am usually right.

Annoying isn't it?

Go on, Google Labour's spending on consultants. Or can't you stand the idea that I might be right?
[quote][p][bold]Devils Advocate[/bold] wrote: My word Kim, you are so right![/p][/quote]Yes I am aren't I? Try researching and you will find out for yourself. If you actually spent more time researching the stuff you read on here you will find I am usually right. Annoying isn't it? Go on, Google Labour's spending on consultants. Or can't you stand the idea that I might be right? Kim Gandy
  • Score: 0

7:59am Wed 29 Jan 14

Kim Gandy says...

You are happy to Google my name... somebody who is a private citizen and not charged with the responsibility of being a public servant. You are happy to read utter garbage about me that has come from twisted, evil people I have never met.

Not so happy to Google FACTS though are you? I know you can't bear the idea of doing that because to see it in black and white from an official source isn't your style is it?

Bullying private citizens and regurgitating rubbish written by nutcases is more your thing.
You are happy to Google my name... somebody who is a private citizen and not charged with the responsibility of being a public servant. You are happy to read utter garbage about me that has come from twisted, evil people I have never met. Not so happy to Google FACTS though are you? I know you can't bear the idea of doing that because to see it in black and white from an official source isn't your style is it? Bullying private citizens and regurgitating rubbish written by nutcases is more your thing. Kim Gandy
  • Score: 0

10:20pm Wed 29 Jan 14

Devils Advocate says...

Kim Gandy wrote:
Devils Advocate wrote:
My word Kim, you are so right!
Yes I am aren't I? Try researching and you will find out for yourself.

If you actually spent more time researching the stuff you read on here you will find I am usually right.

Annoying isn't it?

Go on, Google Labour's spending on consultants. Or can't you stand the idea that I might be right?
Yes, even if you missed the touch of irony! I meant politically!
[quote][p][bold]Kim Gandy[/bold] wrote: [quote][p][bold]Devils Advocate[/bold] wrote: My word Kim, you are so right![/p][/quote]Yes I am aren't I? Try researching and you will find out for yourself. If you actually spent more time researching the stuff you read on here you will find I am usually right. Annoying isn't it? Go on, Google Labour's spending on consultants. Or can't you stand the idea that I might be right?[/p][/quote]Yes, even if you missed the touch of irony! I meant politically! Devils Advocate
  • Score: 0

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