CORNWALL Council has been forced to apologise after it admitted sending the wrong figures out in a response to a Freedom of Information request about the cost of consultants it employs.

Truro and conservative councillor David Harris was sent the wrong price after he questioned the amount spent on consultants in 2019/20 by the council, estimating it to be £20m.

In response to his original request the county council issued a statement quoting figures for 2020/21 at £10.5m, rather than addressing the year he had requested.

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It now says the actual spend for 2019/20 on consultants was £14.968m and the actual spend for this year so far (2020/21) has been £13.973m.

The mistake only came to light when Mr Harris repeated a figure at a public meeting and was told it was wrong.

In admitting its error Cornwall Council said: "At Cornwall Council we try our very best to make sure that every penny we spend of Cornwall’s money is spent wisely. We also try our hardest to make sure that the information we give out through our reports, messages or FOI’s is as accurate as they can possibly be.

"In this instance, we failed to do so, and the error was not picked up before the information was issued.

"The impact was that the requester received the wrong information and, inadvertently, one of our councillors, Coun David Harris (Truro, Trehaverne), repeated this information in a public meeting, only for him to be informed that it was incorrect, despite him reporting the figure in good faith and without reason to doubt its accuracy.

"Like everyone, sometimes we make mistakes, but when we do, as in this case, we hold our hands up to the error, apologise and look to rectify the situation as soon as we can. For that reason, we want to put the public record straight."

Adding: "We apologise for any confusion or embarrassment which may have been caused."

The figure had originally been included in a response to a claim from Mr Harris that the council had spent £20m on consultants in 2019/20.

Mr Harris has been left angry at the news, claiming it was an 'outright mis-statement'.

He said: "There is only one source for these spends and that is the taxpayers’ pockets and the taxpayer deserves a lot better than the current administration."

He said at a Cornwall Council meeting on January 19 he asked Cllr Paynter, leader of the LibDems, deputy leader of the council and portfolio holder for finance if he was aware that Cornwall Council had spent £20 million on consultants fees in 2019/20 and whether he was able to provide an analysis of this number.

The figure of £20million, he says, came from a Cornwall Council response to a Freedom of Information request.

He added: "Whether in the end the spend was £13 million or £20 million, it is still a huge number and the people of Cornwall deserve a reasonable explanation on what has happened here and just how many millions this administration has spent on consultants.”