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Shropshire Council's £190,000 consultant spend defended

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Shropshire Council has "nothing to be ashamed of" in spending £190,000 over two years on a consultant who will help deliver £80 million cuts, the authority's leader has insisted.

Keith Barrow told a meeting of Shropshire Council's cabinet yesterday that Bright Lake Consulting has already helped identify £20 million of savings.

The contractor has been working with the council since October and, under a new contract officially approved by cabinet yesterday, will now work with the authority's programme management office and the business design team to create one business unit in the council's company IP&E.

The contract will run for an initial two years, costing £95,000 a year, with an option to extend it by a further two years.

Opposition leaders from the Labour and Liberal Democrat parties questioned why the consultant had been hired when the council already has highly-paid senior managers. But Councillor Barrow said the consultant was helping train staff to redesign services and claimed workers were "delighted" with the appointment.

He said details of the consultant's salary were originally due to be kept private, but he had insisted they were made public.

Councillor Alan Mosley, leader of the Labour group, said staff facing redundancy as the council cuts 1,700 jobs would be unhappy. He said he was concerned about the length of this contract.

It seems a kick in the teeth for senior staff."

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