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Posted by: John Brace | 9th March 2011

Another apology from Wirral Council… FOI request over amounts paid to councillors on outside bodies Merseytravel, Merseyside Police Authority, Merseyside Fire and Rescue Service & Merseyside Waste Disposal Authority

In an email Wirral Council apologises (“The Council apologises that it failed to collect the information“) as they weren’t complying with their own agreed policy. One only has to look at the information to guess at £120,000 worth of reasons why it took so long to release it!
It took nearly three months after the FOI request to put the information on their website! The information is 12 months out of date now anyway, but the public can now see (in the same place) how much councillors are getting for representing Wirral Council on various outside bodies for 2009-2010. They say they’ll update the start of April with the 2010-2011 figures.

Merseyside Integrated Transport Authority (Merseytravel)

Cllr Ron Abbey £12,958.64
Cllr Chris Blakeley £24,120.19
Cllr Dave Mitchell £5,942.34

Total: £43,021.17

Merseyside Police Authority

Cllr Adrian Jones £11,172
Cllr Kate Wood £15,214

Total: £26,386

Merseyside Fire and Rescue Authority

Cllr Gerry Ellis £10,713.30
Cllr Steve Niblock £14,660.64
Cllr Lesley Rennie £16,508.66
Cllr Denise Roberts £8,025.75

Total: £49,908.35

Merseyside Waste Disposal Authority

Cllr JJ Salter (amount not specified)
Cllr G Gardiner (amount not paid as she is already in receipt of an Special Responsibility Allowance as Deputy Leader of the Lib Dem Group)

Total: Unknown

The above amounts are in addition to their councillors allowances which range from just over £9000 for 2009-2010 to just over £32000. These are not the only outside bodies that councillors are paid for being on but cover most of the ones covered by Council tax (and precepts) eg police, fire, Merseytravel and waste. I’m not sure if these amounts include payments that come under councillors allowances as attending meetings on outside bodies is classed as an “approved duty”. Nor does the above amount AFAIK include amounts paid for conferences & accomodation.

It’d be nice to have in one place a list of names, council allowances, amounts from outside bodies with a total. I might compile such a list later this year. After all the public should know they’re getting value for money. Just so the public know:-

Labour voted for and decided the budget for Merseytravel (which includes the amounts paid to councillors).
Labour (and independent members) voted for and decided the budget for the Merseyside Police Authority.
Labour voted for and decided the budget for the Merseyside Waste Disposal Authority.
Labour voted for and decided the budget for the Merseyside Fire & Rescue Authority.

All the cuts this year and last to police, fire, transport and other services were voted for by Labour who voted against other parties such as the Lib Dems and Tories that wanted things differently.


Responses

  1. Hi John don’t know why you had to use FOI? Merseytravel publish allowances paid to members on their website, as do the Council it is not the secret you seem to paint it to be?

    • I know Merseytravel publish the allowances Chris, however Wirral Council wasn’t publishing the amounts paid to members on outside bodies on their website, despite it being agreed policy (which you voted for) since 13th July 2009.

      Last time I checked on Merseytravel’s site I had difficulty finding them (as other people have had too). Personally I think they should be all put in the same place as the policy you voted for two years ago (which wasn’t done until I flagged it up a number of times). Merseytravel publish the information because they’re required to do so by law. However out of the outside bodies listed, Merseytravel were the only ones I know of that decided their budget without the members of the press and public present. Merseytravel also don’t publish minutes of their meeting on their website and getting information out of Merseytravel is at times problematic.

      Unlike Wirral Council Merseytravel AFAIK don’t release the list yearly to the press, so I think most members of the public wouldn’t know the amounts councillors are paid for representing Wirral people on outside bodies (even approximately) even if you asked them. Last time I checked one Labour councillor on Merseytravel hadn’t declared his directorship of Mersey Ferries Limited in his council’s register of interests which isn’t right or legal.

      However with one Wirral Council councillor declaring they work for a fictitious employer and other such strange anomalies (which go to show none of the information is checked but taken on trust), one wonders how truthful certain Labour councillors are being with the public. In answer to your question it was because I couldn’t find the information which agreed policy stated would be on the website. The reason being it wasn’t there.

      Eventually they replied back apologising as it hadn’t been done. To get the information from all the other bodies would’ve required either multiple FOI requests or trawling their websites for the info (assuming they’d bothered to put it there). If Wirral Council had replied within the 20 day statutory timescale (as required by law) it wouldn’t make me think they are being deliberately obstructive or give the impression that they have something to hide. Perhaps I’m biased when it comes to Merseytravel, but that’s just an opinion drawn from experience.


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