Council spent £1k a day on PR consultant

CRITICISM has been levelled against Lincolnshire County Council after they spent over £1,000 a day on a PR consultant.

PR expert Mark Fletcher was paid over £35,000 for working 34 and a half days when working to assess potential changes to the council’s communications team.

A spokesman from the council said that Mr Flethcer acted as an interim communications manager who carried out research and gave advice on how the council could make savings in its design team, through its printing and changes to its publications.

His report has also been used to help with a staffing consultation.

When The Standard asked how it came to such an amount and why a cheaper alternative wasn’t sought, they responded: “This is the going rate for consultants and we used a nationally well-reputed one who has a history of improving other leading councils”.

Mr Fletcher’s services cost a total of £35,545.48 including travel expenses.

His recommendations are yet to be used, but the council said they have taken on board Mr Fletcher’s report and may implement his ideas when changes are made to create savings at the end of the month,

A council spokesman continued: “We have already used his advice in all the above listed matters.”

“The notion that his report hasn’t been used ‘yet’ comes from the fact that the staffing consultation element won’t be out until later this month, having been overtaken by the other demands following the Comprehensive Spending Review.”

Executive director for performance and governance David O’Connor said that although £35,000 sounds like a lot of money, Mr Fletcher’s report would eventually lead to much more significant savings in the long term.

“We fully appreciate that the initial price sounds high, but this has proved to be a very worthwhile investment when you know the bigger picture,” said Mr O’Connor.

“Following a one-off payment of £35,000, Lincolnshire County Council will now benefit from at least £250,000 of savings as a result of Mr Fletcher’s input - and these are annual, recurring savings too.”

He continued: “In addition, his specialist recommendations will influence the consultation proposals about the future of the communications team later this month.”

“We take the spending of taxpayers’ money extremely seriously.”

Mr O’Connor added: “In these unprecedented times where we need to significantly reduce our expenditure, the extremely useful contribution of Mr Fletcher, a nationally well-regarded expert, has more than justified the initial outlay.”