New enforcement consultant will save Redbridge Council ‘huge amounts of money’
- Credit: Archant
A controversial decision to appoint a consultant to transform enforcement at Redbridge Council has been defended.
Last week the cash-strapped authority came under fire over the appointment of Mark Benbow, who is heading up an overhaul of enforcement to streamline areas such as planning and housing.
Grilling deputy council leader Cllr Wes Streeting at a meeting last Wednesday, Cllr Gwyneth Deakins (Lib Dem, Roding) said she was “surprised” to hear of Mr Benbow’s appointment amid the council’s to slash its budget by £70m over the next few years.
But following the meeting, cabinet member for community safety and enforcement Cllr Ross Hatfull said Mr Benbow had been brought in on his request.
“Where services do need improving, we will spend money to bring in officers with a very good track record to turn things around,” Cllr Hatfull (Lab, Valentines) told the Recorder.
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“I have 100 per cent confidence in his appointment.”
Cllr Hatfull said the council wanted to bring areas such as planning enforcement and housing regulations together to cut bureaucracy.
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“This will not only improve enforcement but save huge amounts of money,” he added.
Commenting on the council’s draft corporate strategy, which sets out the council’s priorities, at the neighbourhood and community services committee last Wednesday, Cllr Deakins said: “There’s no mention of actually talking to the staff and consultation with the staff.
“In the light of what’s been said about that, and the reductions we need to make – money is tight – I understand the council has acquired a consultant. I’m surprised we are spending money on this kind of thing.”
She also questioned whether he had gone through the usual application process.
Mr Benbow was previously head of crime partnerships at Redbridge before joining Kensington and Chelsea council as chief community safety officer.
A council spokeswoman said it was “not unusual for the council to directly engage people to take forward important pieces of work”.
“It is not a chief officer role, therefore not a post appointable to by members, and there is no new department,” she added.
The council declined to confirm details of Mr Benbow’s pay, but earlier this year it was revealed Haringey Council spent more than £20,00 a day on consultants.
A list of 37 consultants not directly employed by Haringey revealed they were paid daily rates ranging from £245 to £1,050.
The draft corporate strategy can be seen on the committee agenda at redbridge.gov.uk.