We lack expertise, so we have to pay

First published in News

THE chief executive of Worcester City Council has defended the use of expensive outside consultants – saying the council hasn’t got the “expertise” in-house to avoid it.

The council is spending £30,000 on using consultants to review car parking, and has also sought outside help in preparing a case for a new £13 million swimming pool.

As your Worcester News revealed in September, bosses spent £73,733 on consultants last year, double the previous year.

It has also emerged that outside help has been sought in reviewing the council’s entire fleet of vehicles and how to make sure the costs of maintaining it are kept as low as possible.

Managing director Duncan Sharkey, speaking at a meeting of the audit committee, said external people offer a “specific skills set”.

“Independent advisers are used where they’ve got ex-pertise in a certain area,” he said. “If you take fleet management, it’s not an area where we’d necessarily ex-pect to have that skill set in-house.” During the meeting some opposition councillors suggested the help could be wasting money.

Councillor Richard Boorn, Labour’s finance spokes-man, said: “I went to a scrutiny meeting last month where we discussed car parking, and the presentation we were given was stuff a kid taking his GCSEs could have come up with. I’m concerned that if we’re paying for advice, it’s got to be better than that.”

Mr Sharkey said: “In terms of car parking, that work by the consultants has not finished yet, it’s still ongoing.

“We needed to better understand the data and could have done it ourselves, but they’ve got the software and people to look at it.

“We paid a reasonable rate for it. If we can’t do the work ourselves or have the capacity to do it, that’s when we go outside the organisation.”

Car parking prices in Worcester are set to be slashed as low as 40p for half-an-hour, subject to agreement by full council on Tuesday, November 27.

Of the city council’s spending on consultants last year, £35,000 went on a leadership development programme for 60 senior workers.

Comments (4)

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8:38pm Fri 16 Nov 12

Doogie 46 says...

Seems to me that the relevant departments within the council SHOULD be able to deal with car parking and a swimming pool project and a myriad of other council responsibilities as part of their job desriptions - surely that`s what they are there for.
As for leadership development programmes - senior people should already have leadership skills or they shouldn`t be in senior positions
The public sector really is an amazing world compared to the rest of us.
Seems to me that the relevant departments within the council SHOULD be able to deal with car parking and a swimming pool project and a myriad of other council responsibilities as part of their job desriptions - surely that`s what they are there for. As for leadership development programmes - senior people should already have leadership skills or they shouldn`t be in senior positions The public sector really is an amazing world compared to the rest of us. Doogie 46
  • Score: 0

8:47pm Fri 16 Nov 12

Landy44 says...

£30k is a trivial amount for outside consultants so we shouldn't blow this out of proportion.

THAT SAID, I'd be VERY surprised if the councils 3rd party spend on outside expertise was only £30k. I suspect it is MUCH higher.

Given the areas indicated in the article I found it astounding that they need to use 3rd parties in those. They SHOULD be part of their core expertise.

They could however EASILY absorb these costs by terminating the employment of those employees who clearly aren't doing their jobs. Better still how about replacing those with the lack of expertise, with some people who do have the required expertise to perform some of the core roles. While they are about it, perhaps the head of the council should be removed for not representing good value for money.
£30k is a trivial amount for outside consultants so we shouldn't blow this out of proportion. THAT SAID, I'd be VERY surprised if the councils 3rd party spend on outside expertise was only £30k. I suspect it is MUCH higher. Given the areas indicated in the article I found it astounding that they need to use 3rd parties in those. They SHOULD be part of their core expertise. They could however EASILY absorb these costs by terminating the employment of those employees who clearly aren't doing their jobs. Better still how about replacing those with the lack of expertise, with some people who do have the required expertise to perform some of the core roles. While they are about it, perhaps the head of the council should be removed for not representing good value for money. Landy44
  • Score: 0

9:18am Sat 17 Nov 12

Ron Chambers says...

To save this money ask the people that do not come into Worcester and the people that due to dissabilty needs .These are the people that matter.
This is a thorn in my side CONSULTATION never happens involving the population.This money could br used in other ways and instead of hitting the elderly once again.To say we have not got the people to do these jobs what are paying them for
To save this money ask the people that do not come into Worcester and the people that due to dissabilty needs .These are the people that matter. This is a thorn in my side CONSULTATION never happens involving the population.This money could br used in other ways and instead of hitting the elderly once again.To say we have not got the people to do these jobs what are paying them for Ron Chambers
  • Score: 0

8:50am Mon 19 Nov 12

icanbelieveit says...

Before Mr sharky was appoinment the expertise did exist in-house but due to forced redundancies and people leaving its left the departments very weak
Before Mr sharky was appoinment the expertise did exist in-house but due to forced redundancies and people leaving its left the departments very weak icanbelieveit
  • Score: 0

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