After allowing £50,000 in consultant fees to engage a chief executive of the Dorset Council – it will now cost up to an extra £75,000 to recruit the new council’s further top five posts.

The news of the extra spending – described by one councillor as "outrageous" – was given at a meeting of the shadow council’s overview and scrutiny committee at a meeting in Dorchester.

  • It comes as it is revealed more than 200 mid-management roles are at risk of redundancy.

The news of the consultant fees came in response to a question submitted by Weymouth Liberal Democrat councillor David Harris.

Cllr Harris was told the amount would include all stages of the selection process, including advertising, vetting applications, running psychometric tests and preparing a long and short-list of suitable candidates.

There had been criticism of the cost of recruiting Matt Prosser, who as chief executive of the Dorset Councils partnership, was tipped by many councillors from the outset as the man for the £165,000 a year Dorset Council top job.

Committee members heard that although £50,000 had been set aside for the recruiting task it had actually cost £41,500.

In response to the news, John O'Connell, chief executive of campaign group, the TaxPayers' Alliance said the expenses were "completely avoidable."

"When local authorities bemoan their funding situation, examples like these make council tax payers rightly furious," Mr O'Connell said. "Senior council officers' claim to be running a multi-million pound business are just wrong - they mismanage taxpayers' money, not that of willing customers. It is right for these roles to be advertised and subject to competition between candidates, but the expense of the process was completely avoidable."

Leader of the Lib Dem Group on the county council Nick Ireland also hit back at the costs, calling the figures "outrageous."

He said: "Local Conservative councillors argue that cuts to libraries, buses and fixing potholes are necessary because there isn’t enough money. Somehow, though, they’ve managed to find £50,000 to pay a consultant.

"The similarly outrageous figure for the tier two posts is equally as difficult to justify when the successful candidates will most likely be employed by one of the existing councils."

Redundancy payments for the existing chief executives will see Dorset council taxpayers hit with more costs when their positions disappear in April 2019.

The payments have been estimated at up to £1 million, although this may now be reduced after Mr Prosser’s appointment.

Cllr Ireland said residents were beginning to realise that the cost of the new council was "rapidly rising" and council tax would go up by the maximum next year.

"The drive to unitary is driven by and is the result of, drastic cuts by the government to our councils – and rather than engage the eight Conservative MPs we have to fight this outrage, our councils are instead acting as agents for implementing this attack on our hard working residents," he said.

The next phase of recruiting, which will start in the coming weeks, will involve filling the four department director roles at between £120,000 and £140,000 each and a single monitoring officer position at £85,000 to £110,000.