Wirral Council carries on hiding at least £1,829.65 of taxi expenses by Labour councillors despite Labour promise greater transparency
The tale of taxi expenses claimed by Wirral Council councillors is rapidly becoming a rather convoluted saga. In case you haven’t been reading this blog I will recap the saga so far. It started with INCREDIBLE: £2,877.35 spent by Wirral Council last year in previously hidden payments on taxis for Labour councillors! This was when I discovered that Labour councillors were using taxis and despite a law stating that the annual totals spent for each councillor for travelling had to be published that these figures weren’t being published.
It led to Row as Wirral Labour councillors rack up nearly £3,000 expense claims for taxis in the Wirral Globe, GRANTY’S INFERNO: Taxi-happy Wirral councillors are taking us all for a ride and a letter defending the use of taxis by councillors. I also wrote a further piece Was there no available public transport when Wirral Council councillors took taxis?
In March I asked the Cabinet Member Councillor Adrian Jones about this. The video of that question and Councillor Adrian Jones’ reply is below (although the link in the previous sentence also has a transcript of the question and answer).
Here are two quotes from what I asked Councillor Adrian Jones back in March:
(b) what changes will be made so that the expenses for such journeys made in 2014/15 will be included next time the annual lists are published? Thank you. “
Now these costs have not been published on that basis previously, however in future the cost of Member’s taxi journeys undertaken pertinent to these taxi contracts will be published on the Council’s website as soon as practicable after the end of each financial year.
In answer to this Freedom of Information Act request I made that I received a response to in December 2014, the total amount spent on taxis for councillors to that point in December 2014 was £1,829.65. Obviously the figure for the whole year will be larger as the financial year for Wirral Council for 2014/15 finishes on the 31st March 2015.
So I’d estimate the total for the year would be around £2,400. The Members Allowances 2014-15 has a column for car mileage (which is for when councillors claim money for using their own cars to travel to meetings) and not for taxis.
The only other column taxi expenses could fall into is “Re-imbursement of expenses” , which only totals £836.60 and is lower than the part-year figures for taxis of £1,829.65 provided in response to the Freedom of Information request.
I recently asked a person who regularly comments on this blog, what should the media do in response to whistleblowing? The answer I was given was “The right thing by the tax paying public”.
I don’t think there’s much further or anything more I can go with this topic though. Wirral Council is proud of its recent "Most Improved" award. When a Wirral Council employee writes an answer for a Cabinet Member to read out at a public meeting that has a specific promise that something will be changed, but it isn’t there has been a betrayal of trust. Someone has to be accountable and apologise (whether in public or private) for this and Wirral Council has to learn to take its legal obligations seriously.
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