CASH-STRAPPED Wrexham Council has become embroiled in a new row over its crisis-hit housing policy.
It was announced last week that 25 jobs are to be cut and council house rents are to rise by 3% in an attemptto claw back a £1.2m deficit in the authority's 2004 housing budget.
The council needs to find more than £270m by 2012 to bring homes up to standards demanded by the National Assembly after tenants rejected stock transfer to stay with the council.
But it was revealed this week that council officials plan to spend up to £80,000 hiring Manchester-based financial consultants MSC Associates to help bail them out of their mess.
The news has been blasted by Wrexham AM John Marek's Forward Wales Party, which claims it's a waste of taxpayers' money.
Forward Wales's spokesman Chris Maher said: 'MSC Associates were supposed to persuade tenants stock transfer was the only option they had. Tenants saw through that yet the council plans to give these consultants another £80,000.
'It's throwing money down the drain at a time when the council claims it has no money to repair homes.
'A recent report revealed the council's dire housing finances have been evident since 1999. We need a proper inquiry into where this council has spent tenants' rents.'
But Wrexham Council's deputy leader Alun Jenkins accused Forward Wales of having a 'real nerve' and challenged them to make good on their promises to pressure the Assembly into granting extra cash.
He said: 'These are people who engineered this situation by urging people to vote 'no' and then criticise us for doing what we can to try and sort it out. We told tenants what would happen if they voted 'no.'
'We now do not have enough staff to carry out the tasks needed.
'Tenants agree we need the business consultants to help come up with a robust plan for the future.'
'John Marek and Chris Maher kept telling people money would be available if people voted 'no'. But where is the money that they promised?'
Under current restrictions, Wrexham Council cannot borrow more than £5m a year to invest on housing maintenance and improvements,and council bosses were hoping that the transfer of houses to Tai Wrecsam, would free-up millions of pounds.
Critics argued that the council should be allowed to borrow the same amount as the new body.