Revealed: West Northants Council is paying agency just under £1,000 a day for one officer

The council is paying £982 a day for an interim deputy monitoring officer

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By Natalie Bloomer

West Northamptonshire Council is paying an agency £982 a day for a legal officer. 

Geoff Wild began working with the council this month as interim deputy monitoring officer and states on his LinkedIn profile that he provides legal and governance advice to the executive leadership team and elected members of the authority.

He currently works four days a week meaning that the council would face an annual bill of £204,256 for his services. In comparison, Boris Johnson is paid £161,401 a year made up of a wage of £79,496 for being prime minister and £81,932 for being an MP. 

West Northants Council pays monitoring officer Catherine Whitehead £110,000 a year and she is contracted to work 37 hours a week. 

One senior Conservative party source told the NN Journal it was a shocking amount to be paying an officer. 

“I’m furious about this, I thought this new unitary council was a fresh start for Northamptonshire, what are they doing paying nearly £1k a day for somebody.”

Geoff Wild describes himself on Twitter as a ‘local government innovator, change agent and legal maven’.

He has worked at several local authorities in recent years including Cheshire West and Chester, Norwich City Council and  Surrey County Council.

Leader of the Lib Dem group in West Northants Sally Beardsworth said:

“When the Monitoring Officer took her role she should have been able to reorganise the department herself without paying almost £1k a day for somebody else.

“Northamptonshire fell into this trap before - paying consultants and the like exorbitant fees. I thought we had learned from this.” 

Last year the former Northamptonshire County Council faced criticism after it was revealed they were paying £1.4m for a team of consultants to work on a procurement contract for a company to handle the highway network. Then chief executive Theresa Grant defended the payment saying the amount was “average”.

Research carried out earlier this year by the Taxpayers Alliance found that at least 2,667 people employed by local authorities in 2018-19 received more than £100,000. This comes at a time when many local authorities have increased council tax.

West Northamptonshire Council confirmed the amount being paid to the agency for Geoff Wild’s services however they did not provide any further comment.