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Posted by: John Brace | 26th January 2015

INCREDIBLE: £2,877.35 spent by Wirral Council last year in previously hidden payments on taxis for Labour councillors!

INCREDIBLE: £2,877.35 spent by Wirral Council last year in previously hidden payments on taxis for Labour councillors!

                                                              

Hackney carriage by Ed g2s

Hackney carriage by Ed g2s

Hackney carriage by ed g2stalkOwn work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons.

Every year, a legal requirement on Wirral Council means that they have to publish for each councillor how much was spent on travelling and subsistence allowances for each councillor.

The list published for 2013/14 is on Wirral Council’s website.

Last year I made a Freedom of Information Act request for a breakdown of payments made to three taxi firms (A.P. Contract Hire Ltd, Wallasey Cars Limited and Wirral Satellite Cars Limited) for taxi journeys made by councillors paid for by Wirral Council.

Here is the breakdown for each councillor, taxi firm and total amount for that financial year.

AP Contract Hire
Cllr Irene Williams £11.20
Cllr Phil Davies (Plus 3 Staff) £54.00
Cllr Steve Niblock £51.00

AP Contract Hire Total £116.20

Wallasey Cars
Cllr Bill Davies £25.00
former Cllr Brian Kenny £5.00
Cllr Christina Muspratt £10.10
Cllr Irene Williams £46.20
Cllr Joe Walsh £50.60
Cllr Moira McLaughlin £197.10
Cllr Pat Hackett £700.00
Cllr Steve Niblock £442.90
Cllr Tony Norbury £13.00

Wallasey Cars Total £1,489.90

Wirral Satellite Cars
Cllr Bill Davies £106.65
Cllr Chris Meaden £6.70
Cllr Christina Muspratt £159.40
Cllr Denise Realey £20.10
Cllr Harry Smith £25.20
Cllr Irene Williams £117.70
Cllr Joe Walsh £184.55
Cllr Moira McLaughlin £558.20
Cllr Phil Brightmore £7.30
Cllr Steve Foulkes £17.50
Cllr Steve Niblock £16.00
Cllr Tony Norbury £51.95

Wirral Satellite Cars Total £1,271.25

Grand Total £2,877.35

An amount of £10.20 for an Anne Davis for Wallasey Cars was also included in the response to my request, but as there is no councillor called Anne Davis, I have not included this amount in the figures above.

One thing to be noted is that all the councillors in this list are from the same party (Labour Party). Let’s take one councillor’s taxi expenses at random and compare them to the published list for 2013/14.

Cllr Moira McLaughlin’s taxi rides came to £197.10 with Wallasey Cars and £558.20 with Wirral Satellite Cars (total £755.30).

However next to Cllr Moira McLaughlin’s name on the published list of expenses are two entries. £40.10 for “expenses” and £167.29 for subsistence. This comes to a total of £207.39 that comprises the items detailed in the blog post expense claim forms for Councillor Moira McLaughlin 2013 to 2014. The taxi rides with Wallasey Cars and Wirral Satellite cars don’t appear at all despite regulation 15 requiring that Wirral Council publish the total annual sum paid by it for each councillor’s travel and subsistence allowance.

Taking another councillor from the list above, £700 was spent on taxi rides for Cllr Pat Hackett with Wallasey Cars. Yet when you read the published list for 2013/14 his expenses are down as £0 and travel expenses £0.

I would suspect that if I went through the list of councillors above I’d find that none of these taxi rides appear on the list that’s published each year. The response to my FOI request contains the line “The use of taxis’, and the associated costs, has been in connection with legitimate Council business.”

This all reminds me of that quote from Wirral Council’s former Chief Executive Graham Burgess of “We need to spend less on ourselves and more on services” and I wonder what the £2,877.35 spent on taxi journeys for councillors could have been spent on instead.

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Responses

  1. Mr B, QPQ and your are still a Good Man

    • Thanks, but it seems at times an uphill struggle at times expecting (in my view reasonably) Wirral Council to be as open and transparent as the legal requirements on them require them to be.

  2. Reblogged this on Karl Mercer for Independent Councillor of Seacombe and commented:
    More of our money wasted.

  3. Unfortunately Mr B, they cannot and never will be Open and Transparent, what needs to happen is for the Administration to come in and Examine the Books for themselves and other Documentation without that, this as you mention will continue. You and others are Responsible for bringing them this far in the Open and Transparent Stakes (not a Pun, on if cash bet).

    Because I do not mention Statute or make Reference to Case Law, Theft, Fraud, Blackmail are old bedfellows to me; Dishonestly, Appropriates,
    property belonging to Another, with the Intention to permanently Deprive. Thief and Steal should be construed Accordingly and it is immaterial whether it is for the Thief’s own Gain or Benefit. Theft Act 1968. Sections 1 – 7.
    The Law is a Fine thing to behold, but can be a Mares Melt to Prove, this is why I say, each of you holds the Key to stopping this mess.

    • The Fraud Act 2006, attempted to simplify things and Repealed some Dishonesty Offences, it is worth having a look if your interested.

  4. Well done Ace Auditor “Tarrantino”

    These people just can’t be trusted at all.

    Bring in the Administration.

    Ooroo

    James

    I remember John the first Fudgit and Risk It Meeting I attended and there was a general stupor until “Mickey I’m your mate the auditor” got up to talk about expenses and I thought the fire alarm had gone off.

    It was obviously only the conscience alarm. “The Dunny Chain Wearer” went purple and made inane comments.

    • Mr G, another tip for you. have a Look at Companies Law, Balance Sheets, Production thereof, etc, maybe if you cannot see any Company Law Offences, off the top of my head s 993, s 393, 2004, as amended (2014) look at the Fraud Act 2006, Section 9(1) & 9(2). I remember it from Burglary (Theft Act 1968). Burglary with Intent and Burglary and Theft.

    • I’m no auditor James. However as you have a financial background perhaps you could cast your eye over this? From what I can gather, Wirral Council received ~£18 million of VAT back last year, but I don’t seem to fully understand this line so perhaps you could explain?

      “The authority does not budget for VAT as the assumption is that any VAT it incurs will be reimbursed and any VAT it charges will be paid over to HMRC.”

      Does that mean all VAT that is input tax is claimed back, but on goods/services that Wirral Council provide they have to hand over the VAT (output tax) to HMRC? If so, I don’t understand why this doesn’t appear in a budget as surely the VAT amounts for suppliers are paid out (a debit), then reimbursed (a credit) so surely it should appear in their budget???

      • WBc have stated that they follow the BIG fund school of budgeting!!

        Of course John in cashflow budgets the timing of remittances to and from the Customs and Excise are important. Only in the projected Excess of Income over Expenditure is VAT bypassed…but obviously not in all BIG fund budgets many of which knew not any difference between cashflow and projected profit and loss!!

        This school of budgeting with little discernible difference between cashflow and profit and loss was “taught” to a majority of the 2000 plus start-ups of Working Neighbourhoods and ISUS and community asset transfer-all under the aegis of WBC who approved the plans and paid out on them.

        John even your commonsense instinct gives the lie to that school of accounting

  5. Very important service John that you have provided here! Elsewise we would think that , for example, Mr Hackett was a latter-day saint serving the community and with his own money! Thanks for counter-acting that!

    Secondly little untruths perpetuated like these often lead or have led to even bigger untruths. I seek a second and third nominator for you to receive an OBE for services to the transparency of local government.

  6. Mr Brace certainly gets my vote!!!!!!!!!

  7. G’day John

    It just becomes more and more apparent and obvious like with Big, ISUS and Working Neighbourhoods there is no accountability for anything.

    They stand in public lying.

    As “Highbrow” says if they can’t honestly declare minor items like travel what else are they not reporting.

    My experience working at The Audit Commission was a senior member of the team went to the council with serious concerns and he was told to go away and mind his own business.

    I will be in the line to sponsor your OBE.

    Great work John they look more and more like the chancers at Wirral “Funny” Biz everyday.

    The taxis from New Brighton were probably to collect business plans at £3,000.00 a pop for the ridiculous empty community centre that could be wall papered with business plans..

    The next council meeting could be the one were were the “Dunny Chain Wearer” implodes, err no explodes

    Ooroo

    James

    John they think if they ignore things they will go away. Not with “Highbrow” and myself I will continue to haunt and tease and taunt until they do the right thing……….. “Highbrow” just has the evidence.

    Keep up the great work luv that new camera.

    Where is that DCLG Report?

  8. G’day John

    Fudgit and Risk It Meeting tonight and I presume you will be there.

    “Highbrow” and I can’t make it ahhhhhhhh!!

    We have given up on the elected (parasites) members as they have had three and a half years, almost four, to do the right thing even watched officers publicly lie in front of them and supported them with lunatic statements. Bar Simon Kelly.

    Tell “Crabapple”/Piermaster that as suggested we won’t bother them again they are just useless blots on the Wirral purse.

    By passing them now.

    Can you film it when you pass on the message.

    Ooroo

    James

    • Come on Mr G, Never “Give Up” until you achieve what you started or as Kevin Costner said ” Never, No Never, Give Up until the Fight is Won ” or as Gra, Gra, Gra, said ” We Won the War, now we have to win the Peace”

  9. Reprahnehpets

    Not given up and never will.

    Just a different route.

    Ooroo

    James

  10. […] Just to follow up our NO MORAL AUTHORITY story earlier on this week there’s been some magnificent work undertaken by John Brace on his blog HERE […]


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