The Cost Of Consultants

Now here’s an odd thing.

The Echo reported last week that:

CONSULTANTS have been hired in to look at the best ways to develop land close to Southend Airport in the next decade.

Southend and Rochford councils are jointly working on a new development plan for the airport area, as part of long-term planning strategies.

In a report to Southend Council’s cabinet, enterprise director Andy Lewis defended the use of consultants as “essential”.

Without them, the Government might well rule the resulting strategy might be ruled unsound, he suggested.

The Halcrow company has been appointed after tendering for the job, for an undisclosed sum, expected to run into several tens of thousands of pounds.

Southend Council, Rochford District Council and the East of England Development Agency will share the bill.

Anna Waite, councillor responsible for transport, said: “For something like this, which a study of the development policy in the area around the airport, we do not have either the capacity or the expertise in the council to carry it out.

“Because the cost is being split three ways, I have no idea what the cost of the consultants will be.

It does seem odd that councillors in Southend don’t know what the total cost will be. Because a brief email to the Rochford council offices got a quick response – the total cost of the consultants is ?108,910 plus expenses capped at ?10000.The work the consultants do will feed into and shape the work of the Joint Area Action Plan( JAAP) for the airport and its environs. What’s more, the figure isn’t a secret.

Consultants are being used because of the specialist nature of the work, and a tight timescale. Rochford’s share of the cost is coming out of a special government grant it receives called Local Government Business Grant Incentive Award( LABGI). so although the cost is rather higher than the guess in the Echo, it’s not increasing your council tax.

Incidentally, the government is paying out over ?300 MILLION pounds to councils across the country for stuff like this. Whether all of it is well-spent is another matter….