Council spends £1.5m on consultants fees

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SCARBOROUGH Borough Council has spent £1.5 million on consultants and contractors in the last six months.

They were employed to help SBC deliver its corporate plan based around creating jobs, boosting the economy and managing the environment.

SBC says it needed to spend the money on experts who could obtain funding and deliver money for projects as well as using cash from the council’s coiffeurs.

But, figures in a report put to the council’s audit committee last week, following a freedom of information request show that in the six-month period, from April to November, it appears that just shy of £330,000 has been spent specifically in Whitby.

Most of that came from the Environment Agency for studies in and around the harbour and the piers.

£157.531.13 has been spent on a specialist coastal study to looking at protecting the local environment from flooding caused by rain, rivers of the sea.

Similar studies on the harbour wall cost a total of £31,680 while £9187.26 went on impoundment fees.

A specialist investigation on Whitby Pier cost £11,548.12 and urgent works on the East Pier cost £82,585.74.

Robin Hood’s Bay had £5,959.43 spent on a coastal strategy too while a total of £31,157.72 was spent on studies around Whitby Business Park.

A feasibility study to “encourage and support the development of a high quality built environment” cost an external funder £8,630.16, a planning retail assessment for Whitby and a second one for the business park costing a combined total of £10, 203.30 was paid for out of SBC’s revenue budget while specialist grant applications were also made to Yorkshire Forward for £12,324.26 to “secure sustainable economic growth and improve properity in both rural and urban areas” at the business park.

Other items of note in the breakdown are eight payments of £26,676 on “improvement and efficiency implementation” in the revenue, benefits and Customer First department, £9,874.14 on environmental health inspection and £48,067.98 on consultants fees for Marine Drive.

In the report, the council said the use of consultants other agencies was necessary in order to be able to deliver the corporate plan.

It says: “Tasks undertaken are in the main of a specialist nature that are not required on a routine basis to deliver the Council’s core activities.

“It would not represent value for money or, in some cases even be possible, to provide these services on an in-house basis.

“The expertise required can be expensive and therefore procuring these services on an ‘as needed’ basis is the most cost effective means.

“Coastal protection works, aerial surveys, flood works, architectural design services, archaeological, environmental and ground works are all good examples of areas where specific specialisms or specialist equipment is required that can only be procured from external sources.”