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Redbridge Council pays out £1.3million for consultancy advice on building works

PUBLISHED: 07:00 11 November 2019

Wanstead High School, where more than £309,000 was spent on consultancy work for a swimming pool revamp. Picture: Ken Mears

Wanstead High School, where more than £309,000 was spent on consultancy work for a swimming pool revamp. Picture: Ken Mears

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More than £1.3million of taxpayer cash was spent on consultants to advise Redbridge Council on major building works in 2017/18.

The St Georgio Hotel was earmarked for temporary accommodation but plans have stalled. The council spent £111,000 on consultancy work around temporary accommodation. Picture: Ken MearsThe St Georgio Hotel was earmarked for temporary accommodation but plans have stalled. The council spent £111,000 on consultancy work around temporary accommodation. Picture: Ken Mears

The local authority spent hundreds of thousands on consultancy work for individual schemes, including schools, swimming pools and temporary accommodation within the borough.

One consultancy, John Rowan and Partners, a multi-disciplinary firm specialising in property and construction, received the most from the council overall: a total of £721,540.37.

The company supported the council redeveloping four primary schools, including Uphall Primary School - for £167,232 - and Wanstead High School, for £252,300. It also received £204,096 for advising on two school swimming pools.

Mott MacDonald, an engineering and development consultancy, also received £223,380.49 from Redbridge Council for work carried out on another five schools and two swimming pool projects.

More than £167,000 was spent on advice on improvements at Uphall Primary School.More than £167,000 was spent on advice on improvements at Uphall Primary School.

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The design and consultancy firm Arcadis LLP received £81,232.37 from Redbridge Council, for schemes at Hatton Special School and temporary accommodation provision in the borough. Blakeney Leigh Limited also advised on temporary accommodation and was paid £33,598.

A Redbridge Council spokeswoman said: "The council is embarking on a major programme to build 600 council homes by 2022 and is currently procuring 300 homes to help provide long-term stable homes for our homeless residents."

The most consultant-heavy capital project embarked on in 2017/28 was Wanstead High School swimming pool, which saw two different consultancy firms drafted to the tune of £309,341.97 of taxpayer cash.

Over the course of the whole financial year Redbridge Council paid £1,374,344.96 to consultants for advice on 44 capital works projects.

Asked how the local authority ensures it is receiving the best deal, the spokeswoman said: "Consultants such as architects and surveyors are used for a variety of project work because we don't have this expertise internally and they are critical in ensuring the successful management of schemes from conception to completion.

"We use different procurement routes, including the London Tender Portal and always appoint suppliers based on best value, with both price and quality considered."

The figures were obtained earlier this year using the Right to Inspect. Within a 30-day statutory window each year, residents of a borough and journalists can request to view and make copies of the council's financial documents while its annual statement of accounts is being audited.

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