Council criticised over waste ‘guru’ contract

Authority is paying consultant �3,000 a week to modernise its Brynsworthy operation.

NORTH Devon Council has defended a decision to pay a firm of consultants �3,000 a week to shake up its waste and recycling service.

The council has hired the services of a management ‘guru’ for up to 12 months in a bid to make ‘substantial’ savings at the Brynsworthy Environment Centre on the outskirts of Barnstaple.

The authority has already agreed to extend an initial three-month contract for a further three months and has the option to hire the consultant for up to 12 months in total. The total bill for the council could be as much as nearly �160,000.

News of the arrangement was met with surprise by some councillors at Wednesday night’s full council meeting.

Conservative shadow leader, Councillor Des Brailey, who said he discovered the details ‘buried’ in a budget report, described the spending as ‘scandalous’.

He said: “We are paying an interim manager more than the Prime Minister of this country to oversee changes at the waste and recycling service.

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“Whichever way you look at it, we are paying �3,000 a week to hire one guy.”

Independent Cllr Christopher Turner said: “This has come as a shock to me.”

Council chief executive Mike Mansell said ‘expert input’ would modernise the DLU and the way it operated.

He said: “Our contract is with Gordon Mackie Associates (GMA) for the provision of expert change management skills.

“The employee is provided by GMA and payment is made to GMA, not the person employed. The principle of his employment is that he will save us substantial amounts of money.”

On their website, the consultancy firm says its ‘dedicated, qualified team of consultants has a proven track record in this specialised field of waste management’.

The council’s lead member for waste and recycling, Cllr Rodney Cann, said the service was projected to make �150,000 savings this year, and that further savings identified by consultants would produce ‘substantial’ savings in the future.

He said: “Council tax payers in North Devon pay �68 per head for recycling services – the highest in Devon – and that is not sustainable. We have inherited a mess and we’re going to put it right. We needed drastic action and we didn’t want to mess about – we want the best.

“The work is in progress and we wouldn’t have entered into it unless we thought it would be worth it. The rate payers in North Devon will see a year-on-year saving and recycling rates will shoot up.”

In his report to the council, leader Brian Greenslade said: “While it’s early days Cllr Cann and I are optimistic that changes in the way we deliver our waste and recycling service will generate substantial savings and capacity building will also help NDC to do more for less.”

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