Council leader Tudor Evans says: "We are not wasting your cash"
COUNCIL leader Tudor Evans has denied allegations that his administration is wasting taxpayers' money.
The claims were made by former city finance chief Cllr Ian Bowyer, who told The Herald the council had thrown away "at least £70,000" since May's local elections.
He attacked a budget survey sent out to 8,000 city homes this month, which he said was a waste of £20,000.
The survey contains 30 questions ranging from "To what extent do you agree or disagree that your local area is a place where people from different ethnic backgrounds get on well together?" to questions about gender, age and state of health.
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"You and I could probably have guessed the answers to most of the questions," Mr Bowyer said. "We already know people's priorities. They would do much better to just deliver services."
The survey was organised by a Newton Abbot market research company.
But Mr Evans said the Conservatives had done exactly the same thing. "The council has been surveying people for the budget for the past ten years," he said. "It's never a waste of money to find out what the local community thinks. I think the Tories are just trying to start a fight in an empty room."
A council spokeswoman said the total cost of the survey was £19,066.
Mr Bowyer also criticised the appointment of a PA to the Cabinet at a cost he estimated to be in the region of £20,000.
"When the Conservatives were in charge the Cabinet did all its own work without the assistance of a PA," he said.
Mr Bowyer questioned whether the Labour group had been forced to appoint a PA after it cut the number of Cabinet members from ten to eight as a way of funding the creation of an economic development trust for the north of the city.
But Mr Evans said that the council had always employed someone to write letters and organise diaries for Cabinet members. "It always did happen in Plymouth but the Tories sacked the person," he said. "That was the reason people could never get meetings with Cabinet members in the last administration.
"Having someone to do tasks like that leaves Cabinet members free to make decisions."
And Mr Bowyer said that two reports by lawyers into whether the council could break the contract for the Devonport incinerator had cost "about £30,000 including VAT".
The reports commissioned by the Labour group on the council were totally pointless, he said.
But Mr Evans said: "The previous administration spent £755,000 on legal advice drawing up the incinerator contract. I have spent £25,000.
"I made a promise to the people of Plymouth and I have kept that promise. The advice was money well spent."
A council spokeswoman said the position of PA to the Cabinet was created as a result of a restructure involving all PA positions, which reduced the number of roles from 22 to 16. She said: "So, far from wasting money, this was part of an exercise that saved £80,000."