South Kesteven District Council has been paying an external consultancy more than £10,000 a month for advice on its communication strategy. Since June last year, Adrian Smith of Emulus Communications Limited has been engaged in the role as Head of Communications for the Conservative-led local authority. It is believed that the consultancy contract was originally established at the instruction of the Coun Matthew Lee who took over as Leader of the South Kesteven Conservatives two months earlier (April 2017). The two men have previously worked together in 2010 when Coun Lee was a Council Cabinet Member in Peterborough.
Independent Member for Market and West Deeping ward, Coun Ashley Baxter is alarmed: “I was shocked to discover that we are paying over £140,000 a year to an external consultant for work which should rightly be carried out by Council staff. During the last 12 months, I have communicated with Mr Smith several times about the lack of publicity for events and projects in the South of the District. When I met him at the end of March to discuss the problem, I was disappointed to learn that in nine months at the Council he had not even visited Market Deeping. Anyone being paid £10,000 to promote the District should make it their business to know every corner of their patch. The situation has improved recently but I can’t believe we’re paying more than a salary higher than that of a Government Minister for Mr Smith’s services.”
Coun Baxter discovered the level of payments while inspecting the Council’s published records of expenditure over £500. He comments “I had been under the impression that Adrian Smith was a Council employee but then I noticed the regular payments of over £10,000 to his private consultancy firm”. Coun Baxter now intends to ask the Council to scrutinise the decision to continue the contract with Emulus Communications Ltd to determine if it is legal, fair and providing value for money.
Notes to Editors:
The usual monthly amount paid to Emulus Communications Ltd (inc VAT) is £11,976 which equates to an annual amount of £143,712.
The salary of a UK Govt Cabinet Minister is £141,505.
For more information contact Coun Ashley Baxter.