I have just been reading Paul Armstrong's article in the Packet newspaper about Cornwall Council's astonishingly high level of payments to consultants.


'£20k' cost of of employing consultants at Cornwall Council does not add up

I share this concern and two years ago made an attempt to find out through FOI about payments made to a Bedfordshire-based employment agency called Comensura. The actual sum paid each month varied but on an annualised basis was typically in the range £5m - £7m - a vast sum of money.

The reason for my interest in this particular firm stems from a conversation that took place at a wedding reception a few years back with a chap from Bedford who was working as an IT Consultant for Cornwall Council through a local employment agency. In addition to his daily rate (I forget exactly what he said he was being paid but the sum of £1,000 per day springs to mind) he was also getting first-class train travel, accommodation in a hotel and all meals and subsistence paid for. And he was most proud of telling me this! I remember thinking at the time that it was hard to believe that Cornwall Council couldn't find a person living locally to do this work at a fraction of the cost, while keeping the money in the county.

I was sufficiently irked by this that I carried out some basic research on the Council's website looking at monthly billing in excess of £500. I identified regular six-figure payments to the company mentioned above - Comensura - and tried to find out through FOI exactly what services this Bedfordshire-based firm was providing to Cornwall Council. Not surprisingly the FOI response was far from informative and I gave up my inquiry on the basis that I didn't have enough knowledge of how the system works to make further progress. I tried to get support from our local Cornwall Councillor but this also turned up blank.

Having been in business myself for many years I am well aware of the clever tricks that accountants sometimes play in order to hide staff costs from the books, regardless of the fact that in doing so they are costing their organisation five times as much as an employee.

At a time when Cornwall Council is under great financial pressure I believe it is incumbent on everyone to ensure that the residents of Cornwall are getting the best value for money. I would be grateful for your thoughts on the above.


Ross Durkin

Little Halwyn



TR13 0EG