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Plaid AM hit out at cost of outside legal advice at RCT council

Rhondda Cynon Taf council has finally admitted it spent almost £400,000 in 2010-11 on outside legal advice for two council directorates.

At the same time, the council revealed that during the same period it employed a staff of 11 fee earning solicitors across the authority costing a total of £430,589.

The figures on outside legal advice and other consultants costs were obtained by former Plaid Cymru AM Chris Franks after a long battle for the release of information under the Freedom of Information Act which involved the Information Commissioner.

Rhondda Cynon Taf council refused to provide information on how much in total the council spent on consultants, including lawyers, saying it would be too costly but Chris Franks appealed to the Information Commissioner.

The authority has now provided Chris Franks with details of spending on consultants for its corporate services directorate which includes legal and democratic services, and its chief executives’ division, which includes human resources and planning.

Leanne Wood, who represents South Wales Central, including RCT, said:

“Chris has been involved in a long battle for the release of information about consultants’ costs.

"I don't understand why the council spent this on outside legal advice when they had a team of 11 well-paid lawyers working across the authority’s divisions."

Chris Franks said: “It’s been a real battle to obtain information from RCT, something which started while I was an Assembly Member. My view is that the council fought hard not to release any information because of the amount being spent, particularly on legal advice.

“The public will question why so much was spent on outside legal advice when they employ so many lawyers. Perhaps, they are not employing lawyers with the right skills set to be able to handle the majority of legal matters.

Pauline Jarman, Plaid leader on Rhondda Cynon Taf council, added:

“Of course, the figures provided by the authority are probably only the tip of the iceberg because RCT council said that providing any information more than from the corporate services directorate and chief executives’ division would be too costly. These costs prove that the council's use of consultants is more widespread than they would have us believe.

“I remain very surprised that the authority does not have a centralised system which tells them how much is being spent on consultants, including lawyers, rather than the information being kept by various divisions. But perhaps it is convenient for them to do so.

“These costs prove that the Council's use of Consultants is more widespread than they would have us believe."

RHONDDA CYNON TAF COUNCIL RESPONSE

For FY 2010/11 there were 11 fee earning solicitors with a total salary cost of £430,589.

Please note that this figure includes 4 solicitors who were employed in Legal Service's Childcare section with a salary cost of £157,821. The remainder is made up of solicitors who were employed in Legal Service's Corporate, Planning, Litigation and Property sections.

Corporate Services - Legal and Democratic Services, Customer Care and ICT, Performance & Risk Management

Chief Executives’ division - HR, Planning and Regeneration, Strategy and Tourism

The List Below

AECOM LTD
ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT TOWN CENTRE REGENERATION £11,326

ALUN ALESBURY (MR) LEGAL ADVICE BARRISTER £1,000

ANDREW GREEN (MR) LEGAL ADVICE BARRISTER £3,400

ANDREW JONES LEGAL ADVICE BARRISTER £1,040

ANNA MOELWYN WILLIAMS LEGAL ADVICE BARRISTER £3,155

ANTHONY PORTEN (MR) QC LEGAL ADVICE BARRISTER £18,500

B LINE HOUSING INFORMATION LTD
HOUSING HOUSING NEEDS MODEL £320

BEACH BAKER PROPERTY RECRUITMENT
RECRUITMENT £7,120

CARDIFF COUNCIL
LEGAL ADVICE BARRISTER (CONTRIBUTION TOWARDS) £223

CAROLINE REES (MISS) LEGAL ADVICE BARRISTER £450

CARYS WILLIAMS LEGAL ADVICE BARRISTER £2,000

CATHERINE HEYWORTH LEGAL ADVICE BARRISTER £3,150

CATRIN JOHN LEGAL ADVICE BARRISTER £600

CHRISTINE ABBOTT (MS) LEGAL ADVICE BARRISTER £1,775

CHRISTOPHER FELSTEAD (MR) LEGAL ADVICE BARRISTER £1,025

CLARE MOWBRAY LEGAL ADVICE BARRISTER £450

CLARE PARRY (MISS) LEGAL ADVICE BARRISTER £2,908

CLARE TEMPLEMAN (MISS) LEGAL ADVICE BARRISTER £983

COLIN DOUGLAS LEGAL ADVICE BARRISTER £4,150

DAVID CALLOW (MR) LEGAL ADVICE BARRISTER £3,425

DAVID EVANS (MR) LEGAL ADVICE BARRISTER £75

DAVID PHILLIPS QC (MR) LEGAL ADVICE BARRISTER £3,000

ELIZABETH MCGAHEY (MISS) LEGAL ADVICE BARRISTER £1,750

EMILY DAVIES LEGAL ADVICE BARRISTER £14,350

EMMA SUTTON LEGAL ADVICE BARRISTER £1,120

ENFUSION LTD SUSTAINABILITY LOCAL DEVELOPMENT PLAN £8,800

EUGINE EGAN (MR) LEGAL ADVICE BARRISTER £1,130

EVERSHEDS LEGAL ADVICE £162,660

GWYNEDD COUNTY COUNCIL
LEGAL ADVICE BARRISTER (CONTRIBUTION TOWARDS) £110

HALCROW GROUP LTD
TRANSPORTATION LOCAL DEVELOPMENT PLAN £9,616

HANDLEY PARTNERSHIP LISTED BUILDINGS £6,200

HELEN RODDICK LEGAL ADVICE BARRISTER £650

IDOX SOFTWARE LTD GEODATA DATA ANALYSIS £5,400

IRENE HORSHAM LEGAL ADVICE BARRISTER £375

JM GATEHOUSE TECHNICAL LOCAL DEVELOPMENT PLAN £1,474

JON HOLMES (DR) LEGAL ADVICE BARRISTER £450

JULIAN WINN REED (MR) LEGAL ADVICE BARRISTER £450

JUSTIN AMOS LEGAL ADVICE BARRISTER £4,325

KATHERINE BROADHURST (MISS) LEGAL ADVICE BARRISTER £2,175

KATY MORGAN (MISS) LEGAL ADVICE BARRISTER £920

LISA THOMAS (MISS) LEGAL ADVICE BARRISTER £7,550

LYNNE MORGAN LEGAL ADVICE BARRISTER £1,430

MARK ALLEN LEGAL ADVICE BARRISTER £715

MATTHEW BARRY (MR) LEGAL ADVICE BARRISTER £14,194

MICHELLE WITHERS (MISS) LEGAL ADVICE BARRISTER £480

MORAG ELLIS (MISS) PLANNING (LEGAL) £2,600

MORGAN COLE SOLICITORS LEGAL ADVICE PROCUREMENT £31,629

MORGAN COLE SOLICITORS LEGAL ADVICE LEASE £270

MORGAN COLE SOLICITORS LEGAL ADVICE PROCUREMENT £6,333

NATHAN JONES (MR) LEGAL ADVICE BARRISTER £690

NATHANIEL LICHFIELD & PARTNERS
HOUSING & RETAIL LOCAL DEVELOPMENT PLAN £17,631

NATIONAL STONE CENTRE
MINERALS LOCAL DEVELOPMENT PLAN £3,357

NCC SERVICES PROCUREMENT £11,256

OLIVER MANLEY (MR)LEGAL ADVICE BARRISTER £450

OLIVIA PIKE (MISS) LEGAL ADVICE BARRISTER £450

OWEN THOMAS (MR) LEGAL ADVICE BARRISTER £58,475

RANJIT BHOSE (MR) LEGAL ADVICE BARRISTER £600

READING AGRICULTURAL CONSULTANTS LTD
AGRICULTURAL PLANNING APPLICATIONS £700

RHIAN KIRBY (MISS) LEGAL ADVICE BARRISTER £3,775

RICHARD KEMBER LEGAL ADVICE BARRISTER £4,425

RICHARD MILLER LEGAL ADVICE BARRISTER £7,500

RUTH HENKE (MS) LEGAL ADVICE BARRISTER £200

SCOTT WILSON FLOODING LOCAL DEVELOPMENT PLAN £6,488

SIAN PARRY LEGAL ADVICE BARRISTER £5,675

SUZANNE THOMAS (MISS) LEGAL ADVICE BARRISTER £50

THREE DRAGONS AG LTD
AFFORDABLE HOUSING LOCAL DEVELOPMENT PLAN £1,000

VALUATION OFFICE AGENCY ADMINISTRATION
VALUATION LOCAL DEVELOPMENT PLAN £12,000

WHITE CONSULTANTS PLANNING £1,488

WILLIAM OKOYA (MR) LEGAL ADVICE BARRISTER £1,500

WILLIAM SEAGRIM (MR) LEGAL ADVICE BARRISTER £550