Thursday 4 June 2009

The Continuing Cost of Coleman

Regular readers will be aware that Mike Freer, leader of Barnet Council, recently awarded his chum Brian Coleman £10,000 of taxpayers’ money for a legal indemnity.

Instead of the free Solicitor offered by the council’s insurers, Coleman decided that he wanted legal representation from Messrs Beachcrofts at a cost of £297 an hour for a partner.

However, a report to the Cabinet Resources Committee reveals that Beachcrofts are one of a number of firms of Solicitors on a panel providing legal services to the council at a much lower cost.

The council has negotiated a deal whereby it can now obtain the services of a partner for £175 an hour.

It is bad enough having to pay for Coleman’s Solicitor when there was a free option available, but it is quite clear that the council could and should have obtained a much better deal. The blame for wasting public resources lies entirely with Mike Freer because he, and he alone, took the decision to appoint Beachcrofts - even though he knew there were cheaper options available.

So the next time you hear Mike Freer talking about the need to cut costs and improve efficiency, just tell him this. You don’t know what you’re doing.