CONSULTANTS have been drafted in by the Isle of Wight Council to clear a backlog of planning applications — at a cost of £20,000.
The authority said it was forced to take on consultants because of a relatively high number of applications submitted at the end of last year, coinciding with staff sickness.
It said it had a statutory duty to process applications within laid-down time frames.
The council describes the decision to employ two consultants from the external, local authority-based consultancy, Urban Vision, as 'short-term assistance’ to deal with 37 applications.
"These are, by and large, relatively uncontroversial applications and we expect the majority will be determined under currently agreed delegated powers procedures," said a spokesman.
The council deputy director for economy and environment John Metcalfe said: "It is anticipated the cost of this will be around £20,000, which is covered by planning fees for applications.
"Without this help applications could be delayed or bypass the local process by being taken straight to appeal, which may cost the council more money than if it had been handled within the prescribed time limits."