It was only couple of weeks back I reminded you of SCC’s extraordinary and unspecified spend on consultants which was decided unilaterally by Suffolk’s Conservatives back in May. £122,000 of public money ( 16p from every single Suffolk resident) was to be spent without oversight on unspecified but terribly, terribly important ‘services’ from three consultancy companies : Fields of Learning, Scintillate and DNA. This decision (to allow Chief Executive Andrea Hill to spend this money without further reference to the Council) was voted through by the Tory majority at full council despite the best endeavours of my party.
We Lib Dems had previously prevented this significant spending decision being slid in via the Cabinet back door without ever reaching the ears of full council (see below*) by ‘calling in’ the Cabinet decision. I will remind you again that deputy leader Jane Storey said at the time that £122,000 ‘ is a tiny proportion of the county council’s budget!” Her implication was that no oversight should be required in the spending of such a itsy bitsy teeny weeny sum of money by such an intelligent and serious bunch as the administration, and that it was damn nice of them even to have mentioned it!
Today the Evening Star reveals that the DNA in ‘DNA’ stands for Davidson Nicklen and Associates . And that the ‘Davidson’ in question is that very selfsame Sol Davidson whose coaching of the Chief Executive Andrea Hill, Council Leader Jeremy Pembroke, and other senior executives apparently cost us people of Suffolk an itsy bitsy teeny weeny £583 per 60 – 90 min session! Or, as was minuted in the original Cabinet papers, a price that was ‘competitive with market rates’.
Competitive? Do me a favour! Do you suppose for a single moment that any one of the beneficiaries would have put their hands in their own pockets and paid out that kind of money themselves?
No wonder the administration – puffed up with delusions of grandeur and selfimportance though they are – were reluctant to specify this expenditure too exactly. We – the people of Suffolk – might have thought more oversight was required than they clearly wished to us to have!
The Conservatives voted to spend the remainder of this money on further equally unspecified services from another couple of consultancy companies (Fields of Learning and Scintillate).
So the next question must be, what exactly have the people of Suffolk been spending that remaining £92,000 on?
*That infamous Cabinet decision in full (from the Minutes of SCC Cabinet Meeting 30 March 2010)
….the Chief Executive invited the Cabinet to agree exemptions from the Council’s Procurement Regulations so that contracts for Organisational Development (OD) services may be let without a competitive process.
Decision: The Cabinet: i) agreed exemptions from the Council’s Procurement Regulations so that contracts for Organisational Development (OD) services may be let without a competitive process; and ii) delegated to the Chief Executive’s authority to agree these contracts.
Reason for Decision: The Cabinet recognised that due to the enormous scale of change which faced the Council, the Council needed to get experienced Organisational Development service providers in post as soon as possible. The Cabinet considered that the day rates proposed were competitive with market rates and that the cost of getting any other provider ‘up to speed’ would be disproportionate.
So there’s the truth bald and unadorned for all to see – the Cabinet really DO consider paying £583 per 60-90 min coaching session is ‘competitive with market rates’. Market rates for what? The Emperor’s tailoring???