Council’s spend on ‘outside experts’ skyrocketed after Boxing Day floods

Mytholmroyd centre under water after the River Calder burst its banks.
Mytholmroyd centre under water after the River Calder burst its banks.
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The figure that Calderdale Council spent on outside experts doubled in the wake of the Boxing Day 2015 floods.

The council had been steadily decreasing its consultancy spend, from £1,234,949 in 2012/13 to £490,133 in 2014/15, but the figure skyrocketed the next year.

Calderdale’s consultancy spend over the last five years was £4,803,440 and the total amount spent in Yorkshire from councils that provided figures was more than £72m.

Council leader Tim Swift said: “We use our skills within the council wherever possible and have tight controls in place to prevent unnecessary spending on consultants.

“We only appoint consultants when absolutely necessary, and for very specific pieces of work where the required skills are not available internally or we need an independent or challenging view.

“Up until a couple of years ago our spend on consultants was reducing. However, more recently we have had to respond urgently to the devastating Boxing Day 2015 floods, including helping to carry out a huge programme of works with £65m of investment into significantly increasing the standard of protection against future flooding.

“We are also helping to deliver £150m worth of transport improvements in Calderdale. It was necessary to appoint consultants to progress these major capital projects, which will bring in new investment and have far-reaching benefits for years to come.”

More than 2,000 residents and more than 1,000 businesses were flooded in Calderdale. The total cost to the district is unknown but it has been estimated at more than £50m.

A £3m fund is going towards recovery and resilience work, while nearly £3m has been paid out in grants.