Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

The Growing Cost; Mayor Picks Consultants Personally at a Cost to Taxpayers of [Pounds Sterling]5m a Year

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

The Growing Cost; Mayor Picks Consultants Personally at a Cost to Taxpayers of [Pounds Sterling]5m a Year

Article excerpt

Byline: ROSS LYDALL;KEITH DOVKANTS

THE army of consultants employed by Mayor Ken Livingstone can be disclosed today. In the past year alone, 35 consultancy deals have been signed to bolster staff at an already overpopulated City Hall.

Most of those hired on so-called "special contracts" are direct appointees of the Mayor and an Evening Standard investigation shows there is growing disquiet over the way these are awarded and at the cost.

We can reveal that: . The use of consultants has grown fivefold in three years.

. The cost of special contracts has risen from [pounds sterling]900,000 to [pounds sterling]4.9 million.

. A number of these jobs are handed to the Mayor's chosen candidate without going out to tender.

Mr Livingstone's supporters say the growing number of consultants is needed to help the Mayor achieve his ambitious programme for revitalising London's services.

His critics say the list of people hired to advise him grows daily, with many appointments made without public scrutiny.

The doyen of City Hall consultants is Harry Barlow, former publicity director of the defunct Greater London Council. Mr Barlow works a shortened week at City Hall for [pounds sterling]88,000 a year. His cost to the public purse, including his pension and other payments, is around [pounds sterling]600 a day.

Mr Barlow's colleagues believe he has done a brilliant job in selling Mr Livingstone to London. He worked on the Mayor's newspaper, The Londoner, and the advertising campaign for the congestion charge and he is believed to be the brain behind the Mayor's LONDON logo.

Critics say Mr Barlow has used public money to create a cult of personality for the Mayor, with a proliferation of photographs and quotes used on posters and in advertising.

City Hall auditors have raised concerns over his contract. …

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