Saturday, 28 December 2013

Consultants paid £51,000 to state the bleeding obvious

Consultants were paid £51,760 by Wrecsam Council to review leisure provision.

 The Sports Consultancy used statistics on usage and costs that were already known to the council through previous reviews, they only carried out a visual survey of the condition of the buildings and came up with options that were blindingly obvious - to save money the council could close Plas Madoc and Waterworld leisure centres.

 By the same principle, the council could close every library and community centre and save even more money.

 There is the possibility of a new smaller 25-metre pool being built in place of Waterworld but without all the existing features. This would be built on the old police/court complex, which is scheduled to be demolished or moved sometime in the future. The cost of such a new build would be £12 million, to be funded through prudential borrowing at a time when the council is looking to save £9.5m this year. The new build would eat up most of the savings made by closing the two existing leisure centres.

 Other elements in the 207-page report refer to setting up an arms' length Leisure Trust to manage existing leisure provision. As many councils already have this kind of set up, a quick Google search by the council's own staff would have enabled them to come up with this proposal.

The Sports Consultancy also advises that £100,000 would have to be spent on delivering this transfer - presumably to a body not unlike, er, The Sports Consultancy, which has expertise in the field.

 When will see the council's well-paid senior management team start making decisions themselves and using the people with real knowledge in the field - the staff and service users - to make some really radical decisions. Closing leisure facilities would be a short-sighted decision to save a few hundred thousand pounds - so that more money* can be spent on employing consultants to state the bleeding obvious.

* The current Labour-run council spent £882,000 on consultants in the past year, a £332,000 increase on the previous administration.

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