Yep, Cornwall Council has been embarrassed again by a Freedom of Information request which has found that the Council spent £220.76 on calling the speaking clock and £3,724.75 calling directory inquiries.
Both these sums suggest a waste of money, but the Council says it discovered the spending last July and had instituted a block on calling such numbers from council phones (including council mobiles) by October. We can criticise them for failing to have a block in place before (as authorities like Exeter did), but they have done something about it and no more premium rate bills will be run up.
With an organisation the size that it is, the amount spent on such services is comparatively small and there are likely to be excuses made for the spending. Did you know the speaking clock charges 51p per call? I've seen the number used in training exercises (in other organisations) by people who thought it was free.
As for directory inquiries, most people nowadays know that you can get numbers for free from any one of a range of websites - or even from the old fashioned phonebook. But, at up to £2 per call, it doesn't take many calls to rack up the bill facing Cornwall Council.
It's not quite a case of 'nothing to see here'. Any wasteful spending is embarrassing for the authority which is waving its cuts agenda for all to see. The bill might be bigger than that for the awful silk ties, but, in my opinion, this is a much less embarrassing story for the Council.