In yet another mystifying revelation over local council expenditure, five councils in the North East spent £2,500 calling the speaking clock last year. This was wastage the equivalent of spending five full days calling the automated service – which provides the listener with the precise time – leading union leaders to reportedly describe the act as ‘baffling’.
Perhaps even more ‘baffling’ is the fact that the very same service can be found online….for free.
Tom Brennan, North East regional secretary of the GMB, said: “I can’t for the life of me see why councils should be using services like the talking clock.
“If you turn on the BBC, or the radio, you get the exact time for free.
“There are cases where it appears councils are spending unnecessary money and we would welcome any savings which don’t impact the public but help protect jobs. That is the most important thing at the moment.”
The figure is just a small part of the £50,000 the five councils are reported to have spent last year calling premium line telephone numbers. Newcastle City Council, for example, spent £13,163 calling Directory Enquiries alone.
In a period when councils must ‘tighten their belts’ and prepare to cut jobs and budgets, such unnecessary expenditure continues to confound many.