SKDC pays comms guru more than a minister
A communications guru at South Kesteven District Council is being paid more than a government cabinet minister.
Independent councillor Ashley Baxter has uncovered finance payments of more than £10,000 a month for advice on its communication strategy.
Since June last year, Adrian Smith of Emulus Communications Limited has worked as Head of Communications for the Conservative-led local authority.
Coun Baxter says he believes the consultancy contract was originally established at the instruction of the Coun Matthew Lee who took over as Leader of the South Kesteven District Council two months earlier (April 2017).
The Deepings councillor commented: “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 many 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 hear 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 the salary of a Government Minister for Mr Smith’s services.”
Coun Baxter says he discovered the level of payments while inspecting the Council’s published records of expenditure over £500.
He continued: “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.
South Kesteven District Council Chief Executive, Aidan Rave, said: “We are deadly serious about being the best council in the country and to achieve that we need the very best people working with us.
“I’ve been clear since joining the council that we will use a variety of means to harness the talent we need and that includes the use of flexible resources such as consultants when appropriate.
“Adrian brings immense value to South Kesteven and is a critical part of the senior team here at the council.”