COUNTY Hall has spent a staggering £19million on ‘temporary’ staff in under two years, figures obtained by the Weekly News reveal.

Chelmsford-based Essex County Council still has 48 temporary staff on its books who were first employed by the authority in 2012/13.

So far this year County Hall has spent £8,715,448 on temporary staff with 217 personnel being employed - 136 of whom are still employed.

In the previous year it totalled £10,329,772 while in 2011/12 it was £3,871,239.39.

The highest paid temp was a project manager who was paid a £1,500 daily rate during October 2013, while a senior programme manager was paid £1,073 a day from March 2012 to May 2013.

Opposition councillors have criticised the huge spend on the employees who are supposed to be drafted in on a stop-gap basis.

Stephen Robinson, Lib Dem councillor for Chelmsford North, said: “We have been criticising the administration for some time over this because the amount of money being spent on temporary staff and consultants is quite extraordinary.

“Sometimes temporary staff are appropriate in the short term but when you have some of them hanging around for months or even years then that is not right.”

Bosses at the council said the offer of high wages to temps was actually value for money and attracts to quality staff.

A spokesman said: “Interim staff at ECC costs around one per cent of our total spend this financial year and they play a vital role in the way we offer better value for money to the taxpayer.

“As a result £364million has been cut from our budget in the last three years and we are now on course to save a further £235million over the next three years.

“Providing value for money to residents is at the very heart of what we do at County Hall and in order to make these savings it is important that on occasions we bring in short term staff to deal with high level skilled work.”