Councillor fury at ex­pert team

The Peterborough Evening Telegraph - - News - By ADAM UREN

A TEAM set up three months ago to probe Peter­bor­ough City Coun­cil’s spend­ing on con­sul­tants have still not met, caus­ing one councillor to com­plain of a “cover-up”.

Cllr Mike Fletcher was blocked by coun­cil leader Marco Cer­este from join­ing the Task and Fin­ish Group set up in March to study the use of ex­pert con­sul­tants af­ter caus­ing con­tro­versy within the Con­ser­va­tive Party with his cru­sade to un­cover de­tails on spend­ing.

Now he is fu­ri­ous that the group of five coun­cil­lors charged with build­ing up a de­tailed dossier on the coun­cil’s use of con­sul­tants by Oc­to­ber have still not met to dis­cuss their task.

It was re­vealed in March that the coun­cil had spent £12 mil­lion on con­sul­tants in 2009/10 and this fig­ure was de­fended by Cllr Cer­este who claimed their work had saved the coun­cil £30 mil­lion in re­cent years by trans­form­ing the way they op­er­ate.

But Cllr Fletcher said: “We are told that for ev­ery pound in­vested, there is a re­turn of £5, but to me those fig­ures don’t add up.

“It may well be that the fig­ures are cor­rect but be­cause the coun­cil has failed to pro­vide doc­u­men­ta­tion to prove this, then the gen­eral pub­lic has ev­ery right to be scep­ti­cal.

“My loy­alty re­mains with my party but I have an even greater loy­alty to the elec­tors of South Bret­ton and Peter­bor­ough who wish to see a high de­gree of prov- en clar­ity and hon­esty.”

Cllr Fletcher wants to see the group get an­swers to the ques­tions he sub­mit­ted to the coun­cil ear­lier this year, which in­clude find­ing out how much they are paid, the sav­ings they have made and how long they were em­ployed for.

He added: “The group is sup­posed to be pro­vid­ing an­swers by Septem­ber but the in­for­ma­tion to an­swer the ques­tions I asked could be found in two hours if nec­es­sary. It just smacks of de­lay­ing tac­tics and a pos­si­ble cover-up.”

But the group’s chair­man Cllr Nigel North re­jected the no­tion of a cover-up and said they had not met so far was be­cause of the city coun­cil elec­tions in May and clashes with other meet­ings.

He said: “I don’t think there’s any case of us try­ing to hide things. It couldn’t hap­pen any­way as we have four dif­fer­ent po­lit­i­cal par­ties rep­re­sented on the group.

“When Cllr Cer­este asked me to be on the group he was se­ri­ous about it pro­vid­ing real an­swers about how the coun­cil’s money is spent and if there were ar­eas where sav­ings could be made.”

He added he hoped they would meet later this month.

fu­ri­ous: Cllr Mike Fletcher.

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