St Albans taxpayers footing £940k bill for council consultants

PUBLISHED: 09:25 25 August 2017

Scaffolding around the Old Town Hall. Photo: DANNY LOO

Scaffolding around the Old Town Hall. Photo: DANNY LOO

Danny Loo Photography 2016

Taxpayers are footing a £940,000 bill for lawyers, consultants, and managers, who are profiting off St Albans council’s building bonanza.

Figures from between December 2016 and May 2017 show the district council spent the colossal sum on agency staff, consultants, and legal experts.

Mainly to help out on projects such as the town hall museum and new social housing in Batchwood.

The group which profited the most in those six months is the consultants.

They earned £589,481 in the six month period, according to figures published on the council website.

Agency staff earned their paymasters £327,304, while legal experts pulled in £23,312.

By law, local authorities have to publish all spending over £250.

The amount the council spend on consultants is also routinely scrutinised by the cabinet.

Head of Finance for St Albans district council, Colm O’Callaghan, said: “The council is currently undertaking several ambitious multi-million pound construction projects where the support of specialist external experts is required.

“These projects include the transformation of the old town hall in the centre of St Albans into a £7.75m new museum and art gallery, and the development of the museum’s former site into ten homes.

“Other significant initiatives include the city centre redevelopment project, and the creation of a new £18.8m leisure and culture centre in Harpenden.

“We are also building 24 new affordable homes across three disused garage sites in Batchwood and actively pursuing further affordable housing development opportunities.

“Where we can we are using existing internal resources and recruiting more staff with relevant expertise to work on these projects.

“However, a council of our size could not undertake these large-scale building projects without the support of specialist external experts for set periods of time. These external experts include architects, mechanical, electrical and structural engineers, quantity surveyors and project managers with relevant expertise.

“We also use external legal experts to provide specialist legal advice, for example on planning matters as well as agency staff to provide administrative support.”

To see the figures for yourself, visit www.stalbans.gov.uk

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