A cash-strapped council has caused uproar by hiring a consultant for £800-a-day – to help it SAVE money.
Somerset County Council is paying ‘business improvement director’ Lesley Ottery the equivalent salary of £208,000-a-year – £65,000 MORE than the Prime Minister.
The Conservative-run council is struggling to reduce its £350 million debt mountain and plans to shed 1,500 jobs.
But it will still shell out £700-a-day for Mrs Ottery’s service plus £100 every day in agency fees from March until the end of August.
Council chiefs say the appointment is good value for money because Mrs Ottery is delivering ”many millions of pounds in savings”.
But Lib Dem councillor Alan Paul stormed said: ”It beggars belief that at a time when the Conservative-run council is making such huge cuts to services like recycling centres, buses, youth clubs and PCSOs it’s now creating this new post at around £800 a day.
”The Conservatives are making cuts yet wasting so much of our money at the same time.”
The council’s debt is estimated to hit £400 million before it starts to fall, with a deficit of £75million over three years.
Around 700 redundancies will be made by April this year and a further 800 are expected over the next three years.
US-based Mrs Ottery has been described by the council as a “big hitter from the private sector” and has worked Stateside and in Switzerland.
The council has bought Mrs Ottery in ”to work on a number of key projects delivering many millions of pounds in savings”.
She joins Somerset from West Sussex Council where she was the business services director.
But her role has been defended by the Tory council.
Conservative council leader Ken Maddock said: ”We need proven skills to help us change some of the ways we do things if we’re to meet the needs of the people of Somerset tomorrow, next year and in the years to come.
”Lesley will be working on a number of key multi-million pound projects over a six-month period to deliver savings through changing the way we do things.”
Mr Maddock said the appointment would not be an ”additional cost” to the county as a number of senior posts are currently vacant under a recruitment freeze.
But Emma Boon, campaign director for the Taxpayers’ Alliance, said: ”When are councils going to learn that you don’t need to spend money to save money?
”It is difficult for people to understand how, during a time when local services are being slashed, that their council is spending £800 a day on an external consultant to do a job which employees at the council should already be able to do.”