Horsham Council’s huge bill for consultants

‘CASH-STRAPPED’ Horsham District Council has spent more than £280,000 on ‘consultants’ over the past 11 months.

That’s an average of nearly £26,000 a month, the equivalent of the average annual wage in the South East, spent on specialists twelve times a year.

The figures have been unveiled by the County Times following analysis of the council’s spending.

This was prompted by the revelation that the council paid £6,000 for a consultants’ report into leisure services - a report which has now been recognised as drawing conclusions from ‘fundamentally flawed’ methodology.

Christine Costin (LDem, Trafalgar), during discussion on the future of Broadbridge Heath Leisure Centre at a council meeting last week, said that the case being put forward for closure - as outlined in the consultants’ report ‘Leisure Futures - An Assessment of Horsham’s Needs 2011’ - “is riddled with holes.”

And councillor Malcolm Curnock (LDem, Broadbridge Heath) added: “A number of horses and carts have been driven through the Leisure Futures Study and it clearly cannot be relied upon.”

Sport England has also criticised the study which forms conclusions based on the misuse of the organisation’s online tools.

However, HDC is still proceeding with the consultants’ report as a foundation on which to decide on the future provision of leisure facilities in the district.

But in the light of the report’s findings, HDC has been asked: “Who produces the brief for the consultant?”

The council replied: “Generally the manager will commission the work (Head of Service level minimum.)”

HDC is also being asked just how the council appoints consultants and answers are being sought under the Freedom of Information Act.

The full story is in the County Times of December 29.