Councillor fury at expert team
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.