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Posted by: John Brace | 22nd May 2015

Wirral Council hides over £1,829.65 of Labour councillors' taxi expenses despite Labour promising transparency

Wirral Council carries on hiding at least £1,829.65 of taxi expenses by Labour councillors despite Labour promise greater transparency

                                                           

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

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).

In the last few weeks Wirral Council has published on their website the annual totals for each councillor in two files, called Members Allowances 2014-15 and Mayors Allowances 2014-15.

Here are two quotes from what I asked Councillor Adrian Jones back in March:

JOHN BRACE: For the taxi journeys made by councillors that were not included in the annual published lists for 2013/14 and those made since can you confirm:

…..

(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. “

COUNCILLOR ADRIAN JONES (CABINET MEMBER FOR SUPPORT SERVICES): The Council has negotiated competitive prices and entered into contracts with a local taxi company to provide transport for Members in accordance with the Members Allowances Scheme. The taxi company submits its invoices and the details of the Members that used the taxis each month directly to the Council for payment. The advantage of this arrangement is that the cost of transport by taxis is always at the negotiated rate and is a more efficient way to manage the service.

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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Responses

  1. G’day John

    Talking of apologies…..

    Ooroo

    James

    Ps I wonder when they are going to let their new little boy speak up?

    Most Improved Council in Britain – Official!

    How can you believe anything they utter.

  2. G’day John

    “The Pretend Friend stabbed his mate “Highbrow” in the back as well.

    Some tripe about pulling teeth and corpses wink wink smile smile and take this in the back friend.

    No decency whatever.

    Ooroo

    James

  3. The so-called whistleblowing gatekeeper is absolutely not to be trusted. But then I know someone who benefited from his patronage – pretending to be a “whistleblower” and dragging my case into it so he could get out of being “bullied” by 2 senior DASS staff who have since done very nicely for themselves.Everyone’s a winner! -the whole thing stinks.

    • That does seem a to be a Theme throughout these matters and not everybody will stand up to them. Try anything as an excuse won’t he?

    • Can’t wait for this one to come out in all its gory detail. The local electorate may even wake up and do some stabbing in the back for themselves come election time…

      We live in hope…

      I blogged some time ago on the “facilitation” of Wirral whistleblowers here:

      https://wirralinittogether.wordpress.com/2013/09/20/wirral-councils-facilitation-of-whistleblowers/

      I can’t think of a more sordid thing to do than pretend to help only to betray the person you’re ‘helping’.

      It makes the vomit rise every time.

  4. Mr Griffiths, the Pretend Friend, likes to think he is a Bit of a Magnum PI, when in fact he is a Frustrated and Lacking, wannabe ” Sherlock Holmes ”
    he likes to believe he is Hard and that he frightens people, but comes across as a Nice Man, a Very Nice Man, hence my comment ” When he gets over Stella’s Waters, they will chew him up and spit him out ” He actually should have given himself a Chance and got over himself, alas!!!

    In regards to the present Section 17 Theft Act 1968 comes to mind, however if you do not fancy that Fraud Act 2006 again or Companies Act – It is all to do with Accounting again Invoices, Receipts, Systems of Accounting and Reporting at the end of the year among other things.

  5. G’day John

    Friday night and as sober as the judge I saw thanking Martin for being a reasonable person.

    He didn’t say the same to “The Shyster” with his cheap plastic pen and expensive barrister.

    How do people like “The Shyster” sleep at night?

    Probably with his mouth shut and locked.

    Ooroo

    James

    What people do for money and not the tax paying public that pays them.

    Come on Clarkie where are your Administrators or is the whole system going to be tipped on its head?

    • Reasonableness is a necessity and not a virtue James .Just wait ’til the reins are off……

      • Mr Griffiths. I must agree with the last blogger Malcontentx, he is another person who has a handle on matters, let the man get into the job, see how the land lies, who are his Trusted people are and see what happens!!!!

  6. I think that this is the tip of a very large iceberg

  7. G’day John

    6.45 and I have been up for two and a half hours and the first thing that always comes into my head is whether the liars at the Clowncil will speak up.

    Will, anyone speak up like Simon Kelly?

    Or, whether DCLG will finally turn up and do the right thing by the taxpaying public.

    “The contracts were complicated but its not our money anyway”.

    Ed – Pointed out for clarification JB 23/5/2015 James is not attributing this quote to Stuart Kelly or DCLG

    Where does he think the money comes from?

    Ed – Edit to remove abusive term JB 23/5/2015 replaced with word “he”

    For God’s sake this man and these people are public servants and get paid massive money…well more than my £70 a week.

    What is wrong with this world?

    If people asked to look at “Highbrows” evidence they wouldn’t believe this scene could play out.

    Come on people say something Mr Brace wants to Ed – edited out (reason personal abuse) – JB 23/5/2015

    Ooroo

    James

    All of my dignity and self respect have now left the building.

    Thanks

    • Who is on the Audit & Risk Management Committee for 2015/16 hasn’t been published yet.

      All I can tell you at this stage is that there will be 5 Labour councillors, 3 Conservative councillors and 1 Lib Dem councillor.

  8. Mr Brace, that would be normal for a Council, with a ” Clear Mandate to Rule or Locally Govern ” from the Electorate and would be in line with the Leaders Strategy?. (Research Done – Taken from Newspaper Articles, Intranet, Diary Entries, Corporate Plan, etc).
    In respect to the Taxi Fiasco, do you know the system they use? Do they sign the Drivers Sheet?, Pay and Receipt? and then Weekly, Monthly Yearly Invoice? I noted Two Very Large Usage by persons of Taxi’s and one other Usage Missing?
    Does this have Implications for the Audit and Risk Management Committee, like Mr Griffiths and Mr Hiboro’s Fiasco?, I ask this question only as a means of continuing my research into Totalitarian Regimes with Clear Political Mandates

    • Mr Brace, a little ps, you are not the only one that does his homework. Section 17 or 2006 9(1)a or 9(2)b or 393,993. Suspicion aide, abet, counsel and procure, Conspiracy. All to do with Spreadsheets, Invoices, Receipts – M.O’s – who did what, where and when. Two Beyond a Reasonable Doubt, One Balance Probabilities or the Tax Inspector wants the money back. Now that would be a Police Matter.

      • Mr Brace, pps In these matters you have a number of competing matters ; ” Audi Alteram Partem ” – ” Nemo Judex in causa sau ” and ” Who Guards the Guards “

    • There are two systems currently in use for taxis.

      If the councillor incurs the expense his/herself (using their own money) they get a receipt and submit it with a claim form to be reimbursed (it’s supposed to be on a monthly basis).

      However these taxi fares were invoiced directly to the Council and therefore bypassed what’s supposed to happen in the expenses system. In those cases the taxi company had a contract with the Council and invoiced them directly.

      The former I’m ok with, the latter is not how it’s supposed to be done.

  9. G’day John or is that Ed

    You might as well write my bit for me.

    Ed – Pointed out for clarification JB 23/5/2015 James is not attributing this quote to Stuart Kelly or DCLG

    Ed – Edit to remove abusive term JB 23/5/2015 replaced with word “he”

    Come on people say something Mr Brace wants to Ed – edited out (reason personal abuse) – JB 23/5/2015

    Ooroo

    James

    Thanks

    • Ed is short for editor (that is editor of this blog).

    • Mr Griffiths, ” Do not sit in your Room, filled with Solitary Gloom ” Get Edited, good for the soul !!!!!

  10. G’day Ed

    69 posts and you suddenly turn into the rubbish paper from over Stella’s Stagnant Wirral Waters.

    Ooroo

    James

    • See I approved that one didn’t I?

    • Right as I didn’t realise how long it would take to approve so many comments, I’m putting it back to the way it was (un-moderated).

      However comments with links in will still be moderated.

  11. Mr Brace, in order for this matter to come to anybodies attention the DCLG or Police should be brought in and a Complaint made or the matter will fade.

    You have to have a Complainant !! A further problem you have is who owns the property, in this case the Council, the Crown (Government) ?.

    Because once the Money goes to the Council from the Individual payer, it becomes a different owner. I will say that the WMBC have retained money that did not belong to them and that they have used a Court in order to complete that Deception.

    Claiming that they used Secretary of State Regulations, what they did not Take into Consideration was the Theft Act 1968, in particular section 5. The ” Belonging to Another ” portion, nor did they take into account it was an Illegal Bill, Unjust Enrichment or Perverting the Course of Justice.

    Both Counsel and a WMBC Representative were present and in fact the Solicitor/Counsel took an active part and had to beg the Court for an Order, Promising that the Order would not be used unless of Default. This in fact then created further offences on the part of WMBC (Criminal offences). I would have liked to prefer to think it was Negligence on the part of the Legal Professional.

    All part of the Daily routine of a Totalitarian Regime, with a Clear Mandate, do I hear ” In Large Organisations, Mistakes are Made, etc ” Mr Robinson please bring in the Administration and Police !!!!!!

  12. Mr Brace, the above is to do with Council Tax, as no doubt you understood that. 18,000 Summons have been issued for “Non Payment of Council Tax”
    How many are the same as the above case?
    How many have been Instigated by ” Internal and External Audit?”
    How many people have already gone through the Court System?
    Who Traced these people? was it those Private Investigators? or Debt Management Companies? was it done as a Private Partnership Arrangement?
    What systems were used to trace these people?
    Will the Courts (Magistrates/Crown/High Court) be able to give “Safe Decisions” based on information supplied?
    Do I again hear ” In Large Organisations Mistakes are Made”?

    Mr Robinson bring in the Police and Administration please and Now!!!!!!!!


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