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Fourteen page housing report for Suffolk County Council costs taxpayers £70,000

Suffolk County Council's headquarters at Endeavour House, Ipswich (7386829)
Suffolk County Council's headquarters at Endeavour House, Ipswich (7386829)

A county council has spent £70,000 on a report which is just 14 pages long - costing taxpayers £11 per word.

In March last year Suffolk County Council's then leader Cllr Colin Noble commissioned ResPublica to write a report into merging district councils across the county into a single authority.

But, after being ousted and replaced by Cllr Matthew Hicks weeks later, the think-tank was asked to consider the county's 'strategic housing role'.

The report, released last night, said it was to provide "senior leaders with greater clarity about how Suffolk’s shared ambition for growth can be achieved, identifying ways to accelerate the speed and scale of housing development across the county".

But Cllr Sarah Adams, leader of the Labour group, slammed the report as a 'bad joke' and an 'absolute disgrace'.

“To say that this report was disappointing would be a gross understatement. Leaving aside the significant cost to the taxpayer, it is devoid of any discernible substance or purpose.

“It is true that this latest farce started as a Cllr Noble power grab, but instead of taking control of the situation, Cllr Hicks has simply rearranged the deckchairs of the Titanic.

“At £5,000 a page, this report acts as a metaphor for the current Tory administration; inconsequential, directionless and profligate in the extreme.”

Cllr Matthew Hicks, leader of the Conservative-run county council, said the report was 'helpful'.

Matthew Hicks, leader of Suffolk County Council
Matthew Hicks, leader of Suffolk County Council

“Suffolk’s local authorities all share the ambition for continued economic prosperity and the delivery of suitable housing for our growing population is a key aspect of this. We asked ResPublica to conduct independent research on the role we can play in helping to deliver much needed housing in Suffolk. That’s what they’ve done and this report helps us to continue constructive conversations with partners on this key issue," he said.

“This is in stark contrast to Cllr Adams who is attacking a report that provides a positive contribution to aid collaborative working. I am disappointed but not surprised. This month alone, the group she leads has proven itself incapable of providing any alternative to our budget, beyond a 12 line amendment which even failed to gain support from other opposition groups.

"These comments demonstrate an inability to offer any alternative strategy to support economic and housing growth, whilst simultaneously attacking a report which provides a platform to help councils work together.”