£800,000 fees

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WIGAN Council spent £833,579 on consultants’ fees last year.

In 2012/13 the town hall called on the services of more than 20 external experts, a Freedom of Information request from the Evening Post has revealed.

It also shows the cash-strapped council, currently facing further Government spending cuts on top of the £66m they have already endured along with hundreds of job losses, paid Mallory Business Associates Ltd and Economic Research Services Ltd consultants £47,000 for the development of the Healthwatch Wigan group.

Other consultants were employed in projects including school rebranding, waste management, sports developments, the redevelopment of Wigan and Leigh College Campus and other health related projects.

Some £15,785 was paid to Gillian Connolly Consultant Ltd for the transition in making public health a local authority concern and £8,974 was paid to Agencia Consulting Ltd for work on a dementia demonstrator project.

Other town hall projects that were judged to need the help of consultants last year have included work at Leigh Sports Village, projects at the UTC, work on busway projects and waste management procurement projects.

The request also revealed that £2,500 was spent on an examination into optimising the use and maintenance of the Trenchfield Mill engine.

A further £7,000 was spent on the implementation of the Best Bar None Project which aimed to cut anti-social behaviour in Wigan town centre.

Five Lines Consultancy were paid £13,870 for Haigh Hall market testing.

Council chief executive Donna Hall said the council only used external consultants for specialist services where they do not employ people full-time, such as complex IT projects or specialist engineering schemes.

She said: “Like most large organisations, we occasionally engage the services of consultants to bring in outside knowledge and experience in areas where we don’t have such specialist expertise within the council.

“As we face difficult financial times, we have sought to limit our use of consultants. We generally seek their support only when we face particularly complex issues or challenging projects. Using consultants can directly improve our services, save us money and benefit the borough.

“Whenever we procure services from external providers we always seek to secure the best possible deal.”