Northampton

Advisers paid £193k by Northamptonshire County Council

Tony McArdle and Brian Roberts Image copyright Northamptonshire County Council
Image caption Tony McArdle (left) and Brian Roberts were appointed in May 2018

Two government-appointed commissioners brought in to help rescue a council in financial crisis received £193,000 in wages and expenses last year.

Tony McArdle and Brian Roberts were appointed in May 2018 to oversee Northamptonshire County Council.

The pair are claiming thousands of pounds for hotel stays, food and travel on top of their daily pay rate.

The union Unison has criticised the payments saying the money would have been better spent on services.

The pay for the two commissioners is coming out of the council's budget rather than from central government.

The Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) spokesman said: "It is standard practice for the council to cover the fees and expenses of commissioners. Otherwise it would effectively reward a council for failing to carry out its best value duty."

In the 11 months between May 2018 and March this year the authority paid Tony McArdle and Brian Roberts a collective sum of £193,046, the Local Democracy Reporting Service says.

Chief commissioner Mr McArdle has received £104,278 for 105.5 days work.

A sum of £93,200 of this was made up of his £800 per day salary and the remaining £11,078 was paid in expenses, according to figures published on the council website.

He claimed £6,278 for hotel stays between May and March and £1,489 on food and drink. He also put in claims for rail fares and taxi rides.

Finance commissioner Mr Roberts, who is paid £700 per day, received £88,768 in total for 113.5 days of work. Of this sum £9,318 was for expenses.

The council's finances are still "fragile" according to official reports with £23m of savings required in adult social care and £10m being cut from the children's services budget.

Unison branch secretary Kev Standishday said: 'This is an example of this Conservative government thinking.

"They give no extra money to a county which has effectively gone bankrupt but then send commissioners in and make the county pay for them.

"Our view is that this money could've been better spent on services."

The MHCLG spokesman added that the council was "well on the way to getting its finances back on track, which is good news for local services and residents".

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