A COUNCILLOR has called for an investigation into town hall maintenance costs.
It follows confirmation that Wigan Council paid £150 for contractors to replace a broken handle on a door.
Coun Bob Brierley claims a similar replacement lever would cost “less than a fiver” from a DIY store.
The council is making 1,000-plus redundancies over the next three years because of £50m Government spending cuts.
But a spokesman for the council said that the door handle replacement was “more involved” because it was linked to fire and security alarms - and insisted the council was keeping a tight check on spending.
Independent Coun Brierley said: “Of course one door handle isn’t going to make much difference to the budget. But start looking at all the door handles across all the council facilities across the borough and you get to an outrageous amount.
“I would like to know why the council’s own maintenance staff couldn’t repair this handle.
“The question is how many residents would pay a workman £120 pound to replace a door handle - because that is how I base how we should look at council spending?”
But Wigan Council’s Director of Corporate Services Paul McKevitt said that although they appreciated Coun Brierley’s concerns, they were eager to assure him and members of the public that the council was not wasting money on unnecessary repairs.
He said: “To describe this as a ‘simple door handle’ is wholly inaccurate. The door mechanism is a highly specialised piece of equipment that acts as a secure electronic entry system for council employees.
“If it was the case that we could simply nip down to the nearest DIY shop and put a new one on, we would have done so.
“The door in question is the main staff entrance and exit to the town hall. It also acts as a fire door. Because of this, the fact that it was broken meant people could not use this door to get into the town hall or get out, in case of emergency. As such its repair had to be carried out as a matter of urgency.
“The council employs specialist contractors to maintain and repair security doors such as this through a contract won through a competitive tendering exercise.
“During this exercise the council ensured it was getting the very best value for money.
“The contractors not only had to repair the door but had to take time to test it to ensure it was working properly for both the safety and security of the building occupiers.”