Cumbria

Carlisle council £125,000 consultant spend 'not justified'

Carlisle Civic Centre Image copyright Google
Image caption Carlisle City Council needs to make £1.2m savings this year and more than £4m over the next four years, it said

A council in one of the areas worst-hit by recent flooding has halted plans to spend £125,000 on consultants' fees amid concerns the "extremely large amount of money" was not justified.

Carlisle City Council's executive approved the money for "specialist support" in retendering its leisure services contract.

The authority's scrutiny panel said it had "very little information" about the decision, which it will discuss later.

The council declined to comment.

Referring to recent floods in the county, one of three Conservative councillors who objected to the payment, James Bainbridge, said: "[If], while you were flooded out and you were having a hell of time, you learned that your council has spent £125,000 on a consultant, I think you'd be wanting a few answers."

'Slimming down'

Scrutiny panel Conservative member Gareth Ellis said he and colleagues had been given "no breakdown whatsoever" of how the figure had been arrived at.

"It's an organisation that's massively slimming down in what it does and then, to blow £125,000 on consultants' fees, we've got to look more carefully at how we manage the council," he said.

The Labour-run council is looking to make savings of £1.2m this year and more than £4m over the next four years, out of an annual budget of £13m.

Scrutiny panel members will decide whether to refer the decision to the full council or ask the executive to reconsider.

It could accept the payment if given "a good reason", Mr Ellis said.

The current leisure services contract is held by Carlisle Leisure - which has merged with Greenwich Leisure - and is due to expire in November 2017.

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