At the most recent meeting of Stockport Council, Liberal Democrat Group Leader Cllr Mark Hunter revealed, to the surprise of those present in the chamber, that he had discovered that the council had been using consultants PWC for nearly a year to support Stockport Together.
The consultants have been employed on a rolling contract to provide additional capacity as Stockport Council and Stepping Hill Hospital wrestle with the issues involved in setting up the new Stockport Together organisation, designed to improve delivery of health and adult social care services to local residents.
Cllr Hunter cited a recent joint report of parliamentary Select Committees which had disclosed that the average fee for a senior consultant at PWC was £885 per hour.
Cllr Hunter pointed out that, despite Stockport being a balanced council, the decision to use consultants had not been discussed via the usual channels of all-party Group Leader meetings and, in the interests of openness and transparency, demanded to know which cabinet member had signed off the decision, which cabinet meeting had formally agreed it, what were the terms and conditions, and what has been the cost so far.
Cllr Hunter said: “The Leader of the Council likes to remind us on a regular basis of how committed he is to accountability and transparency, yet he appears to think he can get away with hiding what is a potentially significant expense and keep this decision secret.
“He was clearly wrong-footed at the council meeting when I asked the question and, although he promised a reply, one has not yet materialised.”