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Posted by: John Brace | 20th October 2015

MFRA Chair Cllr Hanratty wants to “move on” on issue of councillors’ expenses

MFRA Chair Cllr Hanratty wants to “move on” on issue of councillors’ expenses

                                                                

Cllr Dave Hanratty (on the right) speaking at a meeting of the Merseyside Fire and Rescue Authority 20th October 2015

Cllr Dave Hanratty (on the right) speaking at a meeting of the Merseyside Fire and Rescue Authority 20th October 2015

Video of the Merseyside Fire and Rescue Authority meeting starting at the agenda item on the delegation.

Here’s an exchange between myself and the Chair of the Merseyside Fire and Rescue Authority Cllr Dave Hanratty at a public meeting of the Merseyside Fire and Rescue Authority today.

The reference to note 29 which is part of the statement of accounts for 2014/15 is below.

29. Members’ Allowances

The Authority comprises of 18 councillors from the 5 districts of Merseyside. The total allowances paid to members within the year were:

 2014/152013/14
£000£000
Allowances225239
Expenses1423
239262
         

The amounts reported to the Merseyside Fire and Rescue Authority AGM in June 2015 are in this table here show allowances of £213,690.44 (total of the first eight columns) and expenses of £7,708.34 (total of scale subsist, trav & subsist, overnight & mileage columns).


JOHN BRACE: Earlier this year, on the 11th June, the Merseyside Fire and Rescue Authority met. Agenda item 9 (Members Allowance Payments), included a table of allowance and expense payments for councillors on the MFRA for the previous financial year (2014/15).

The report that accompanied the table referred to the regulations. They require publication each year of the amounts paid out under the Members Allowance Scheme for each councillor in the categories of basic allowance, special responsibility allowance, dependants’ carers’ allowance, travelling and subsistence allowance and co-optees’ allowance.

However the expenses in that table only included amounts claimed back by councillors through expense claims. That table did not include amounts where the MFRA was invoiced directly for travel and accommodation expenses rather than councillors being reimbursed. These amounts where MFRA were invoiced directly total around six thousand pounds.

The regulations however require the table to include all payments made under the Members Allowance Scheme irrespective of whether they are paid directly by MFRA or claimed back by councillors using expense claims.

The table of figures for allowances reported to the AGM on the 11th June also didn’t include the employer National Insurance costs of £10,151.59p paid on the allowances.

Ultimately councillors are accountable to the people of Merseyside, so what reassurances can you give that next time the figures are published for 2015/16 that they will reflect the actual cost of councillors’ allowances and expenses?

CLLR DAVE HANRATTY (CHAIR): OK, thank you Mr. Brace. I understand that there’s been a number of email exchanges between yourself and officers of the Authority to explain to you the breakdown of the cost of how they’ve been calculated. Is that correct?

JOHN BRACE: Yes, there have been emails between us.

CLLR DAVE HANRATTY (CHAIR): I also understand that this has been shared with the District Auditor? Is that correct?

JOHN BRACE: Grant Thornton, yes.

CLLR DAVE HANRATTY (CHAIR): I also understand that this has been approved the way the finances have been reported to the Authority, it has been found it’s been confirmed, there has never been an issue with that? They’ve accepted the way it’s been calculated, the way it’s reported.

JOHN BRACE: They accepted the note in the Statement of Accounts includes the amounts I’ve referred to yes.

CLLR DAVE HANRATTY (CHAIR): Well in that case Mr. Brace I think you’ve received the response from the Authority and that’s been sufficient. OK?

Just before we finish on that, I know that the government have brought in freedom of information and it’s open to the public to ask questions about documents of the Authority, but what I would say is that because of the diminished resources that the Authority now finds itself in, I think when you look at the time that officers and resources are given to individuals who according to the Authority are asking for certain information, I think they need to consider the impact this has on the Service, on the officers’ time and also on our financial resources and this shouldn’t be for somebody’s pastime or for somebody’s hobby when you think about the financial situation that we find ourselves in and I think the Authority needs to examine this and maybe report back to the appropriate minister about maybe if circumstances may be open to abuse.

I’m not happy with that myself, we’ve got a lot of demands within the Service, within the Authority and I don’t want any officers’ time being wasted by somebody coming in just to fill their own pastime. I think it’s absolutely appalling and I think there’s something that should be done about it.

So on that point, I think that the deputation should just be noted and we’ll move on.


As Cllr Hanratty refers to Grant Thornton’s approval of the way the figures are presented in the Statement of Accounts, I thought it best to include the only two emails from Grant Thornton to myself on this in full here.


      

11th September 2015 email from Grant Thornton

Dear Mr Brace

Thank you for your email, the contents of which are noted.

I have forwarded your email to ‎Mike Thomas who is the Director responsible for our audit of Merseyside Fire & Rescue Service. Mike will respond to you in due course.

Yours sincerely


15th September 2015 email from Grant Thornton

Dear Mr Brace

I have been copied into your email regarding the queries you have raised with Merseyside Fire and Rescue Authority regarding members expenses. In the first instance this is a matter for the Authority to deal with and to respond to you. My staff are aware of the issue and will keep in touch with MFRA regarding this matter. Hopefully this can be resolved very quickly in the next couple of days.

Yours sincerely,


In other words the issue of whether the correct figures were used in the table for the AGM meeting was never addressed by Grant Thornton (at least in emails to me) which Grant Thornton said was a matter for the Merseyside Fire and Rescue Authority.


This is what MFRA’s Treasurer stated in an email on the 16th September 2015.

Mr Brace,
        With regard to items B) and C), the Statement of Accounts disclosure of £14k for expenses, as allowed per the CIPFA CODE of Practice, informs the reader of the accounts of the total gross non-employee costs associated with supporting the governance/member service. It goes beyond the disclosure required under legislation and therefore exceeds the £7k reported in the AGM.

        I have explained this to the Authority’s Auditors Grant Thornton and they are satisfied with this explanation.

CIPFA CODE of practice – Final Accounts
 
Members’ Allowances (5)
I77 Authorities are required to disclose the totals of members’ allowances (and expenses) paid in the year …. Authorities in England and Wales might consider whether it would be helpful to provide the wider disclosures in order to give a full picture of the amounts received by members.

Yours

Ian Cummins

Treasurer
Merseyside Fire & Rescue Authority
Headquarters
Bridle Road
Bootle
Merseyside
L30 4YD


However look closely at the table reported to the AGM and you’ll find nothing in the travel and subsistence column for Cllr Newman. Below is a two page invoice for taxi expenses for Cllr Newman.

Merseyside Fire and Rescue Authority councillors expenses page 47 Cabfind.com Cllr Ted Grannell £13 80 Cllr Newman £25

Merseyside Fire and Rescue Authority councillors expenses page 47 Cabfind.com Cllr Ted Granell £13 80 Cllr Newman £25

Merseyside Fire and Rescue Authority councillors expenses page 48 Cabfind.com Cllr Newman £22 Cllr Newman £22

Merseyside Fire and Rescue Authority councillors expenses page 48 Cabfind.com Cllr Newman £22 Cllr Newman £22

And yes, that’s only £69+VAT of the ~£6k. The other 47 pages of this information not included in the expenses figure for councillors at the MFRA AGM are here.

In fact the report on the figures to the AGM states “It is important to note that these are reimbursements for time and expenses incurred by Members, and are not payments in relation to travel and event bookings made directly by MFRA.”

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Responses

  1. Reblogged this on kimnowell and commented:

    Dave Hanratty, oh, come on! Reporting circumstances that are open to abuse. Good luck with that one!

    It remains a right for every member of the electorate to question what their hard earned taxes is spent upon.

    Requesting information as a past-time or hobby… No, I think like most people, I much prefer doing something else.

    However, I think that most people believe that there should be honesty, openness, transparency and, at least perceive that there is some sense of fairness and justice in the decisions that just seem to be made on our behalf.

    I will not think, ‘Oh, reckless and stupid me- How I’m wasting resources’, and that if we all just shut up and stopped asking questions and expecting accountability, MFRA would be able to cope with the ‘diminished resources’ that they find themselves in.’

    Requesting accountability is NOT a waste of resources.

  2. Art imitating life?Hamlet act 3 sc2 ‘Methinks thou does protest too much’ Appropriate play something is rotten in the state of D-Wirral

    • Hamlet is a tragedy about revenge.

      You are right that Cllr Hanratty does protest about accountability.

  3. G’day John

    Apart from the £50,000.00 plus they gifted Grant Thornton for the investigation into Wirral “Funny” Bizz how much do you think the whole self inflicted farce has cost them to defend a few reputations apart from the £2,000,000.00 that the half wits were allowed to get away with to Portugal.

    Just the FOI’s into the Big, ISUS and Working Neighbourhoods that they got for not being open, honest and transparent must have cost more than “The Shyster’s” wages.

    They actually wouldn’t know because they don’t do accounting just spending and concealing and paying Fartin Lobsterpot £40,000.00 plus for two days a week to keep their gobs shut.

    The only thing they are reasonably good at.

    Ooroo

    James

  4. G’day John

    Did you notice I got two thumbs down on my bit about Muppet Meaden Cabinet Member for dog poo.

    Do you think she asked Fartin lobsterpot if she was allowed to do that?

    The article vanished from their rubbish propaganda sheet quicker than a dog poo outside the Clown Hall.

    Ooroo

    James

    I hope I beat my record of three thumbs down just to show how STUPID they are, particularly the women.

    Keep up the great work John and keep asking the hard questions.

    • Are you sure you’re not mixing up Cllr Meaden with Cllr Mooney?.

      Cllr Meaden’s portfolio is Leisure, Culture and Sport whereas Cllr Mooney’s is the one that covers dog fouling enforcement.

      • It’s all poo poo to me John.

        They all stink for staying schtum over Wirral “Funny” Bizz.

        Hate to think how they bring up their kids.

        And dogs.

        Ooroo

        James

        Why defend incompetence/corruption and then try to be serious about anything.

        Just look at them.

  5. The sooner councillor Dave Hanratty realises that he is a public servant taking chunks of ratepayers cash having the gaul to state that officers have got better things to do than answer FOIs if the MFRA had been honest in the first place and given the true figures there would have been no need for the question in the first place.
    The sooner the gravy train on councillors allowances is stopped the better.

  6. Surely part of the reason these bodies are strapped for cash is the “state of Denmark” where there was no accountability. Take Merseytravel for example and the Liverpool 08 card fiasco or indeed if you will take WBC and wirralbiz.

    These authorities shielded by obfuscation could and did waste enormous sums which brings us to the position they now find themselves in.It was not a pastime for myself to have to enquire over 31 FOI’s that WBC had no valid contracts with wirralbiz , that no checks were performed on that company’s quality of work over expenditure of touching £12m, etc etc and to find that al this had been faithfully recorded in a secret 370 page report way back near the start of my fateful odyssey.

    The pugnacity of Mr Hanratty and the sheer cheek of referring to the exercise of in-built rights of private citizens as a “pastime” tells one all one needs to know about these persons’ approach to accountability and democracy.

  7. Well I don’t like the look of him thank you very much. As some of you will know, the limited numbers who ever bother to read my undiluted pigswill, I place a great deal of emphasis on the look of another and, given the image of him sat there wearing that dreadful tie, his Crippen glasses and that sneaky and shifty look he’s giving me as he glances into the camera lens, I can say, quite bloody quickly, I don’t bloody like him.
    Mind, it’s just the head and the lower body parts that I’ve decided I don’t like. As for the rest of him, the waist, the legs and all else that is secreted beneath and behind his workstation,I can’t comment on. I mean, if you can’t see something, how can you form an opinion on whether you like all of his very being. No! It’s the head, the shoulders and the upper body parts that I don’t like and that’s all I’m commenting upon.
    As for the rest, the bits that I’ve already mentioned, that the camera lens hasn’t captured, I ain’t commenting upon them. You’d be an odd sort if you did start complaining about stuff you cannot possible see and therefore judge. Mind, more than everything, it’s his head I really don’t like. There’s something very unpleasant about the head. God knows what it is but I don’t like it.
    Course, if he hadn’t decided to offer up a mild rebuke to our John Brace regarding the expenses issue, then I might have taken more kindly to his head and his facial features. Been a little kinder. Even complimentary. But, given Hanratty’s aggressive tone toward our John I’ll be damned if I look deeper upon this image and find something nice to say about his head and all that I can see below its neck.
    Talking of necks, when the last man to be hanged James Hanratty was sent through the trapdoor by Albert Pierpoint, Pierpoint was heard to say, ‘I don’t like the look of you. I don’t know what it is but whatever it is I don’t like it’. What relevance that’s got to all this I’ve no idea other than to illustrate just how easily and quickly you can get to dislike someone who’s head gets on your nerves.
    There! I’ve said it.

    • The last bit of rancid rats urine should have made reference to the late and very guilty James Hanratty.

      • I’ve edited it to include that name.

    • At the time of writing bobby47, the video hadn’t uploaded of this meeting. However the video is below (should start at the right point). I’d be fascinated if you’d watch the video (that agenda item is only a few minutes long) and then give your opinion based on the video rather than my photo (which is a still from it).

      Some observations I have though are he doesn’t answer what I say or the question at the end as he’s made his mind up what to say before he’s even heard me speak hasn’t he?

      https://youtu.be/NFyy_jq4dNA?t=2m59s

      • Yes I’ve viewed it John. He most definitely doesn’t answer your question but more interestingly, it’s what he does prior to evading your polite and well constructed question that catches the eye.
        Whilst you begin to construct your question, which incidentally is far more important than Hanratty thinks it is, with his left hand he begins to doodle, whilst doodling or perhaps writing a heartfelt note to a loved one, his eyes drift elsewhere but not in your direction giving all those, including bloody me,the clear impression that he couldn’t care less about the question and like the new breed of Common Purpose shitbags that are churned out regularly to suck at the teat of the public purse, he wants to give the viewer and the listener the notion that you don’t matter.
        He also wants you and me and everyone else to know that despite his head, which I don’t like, you can be insulted whenever he chooses and that’s what he thinks he’s just done. He thinks that by behaving in this way he’s asserted himself and placed you on a lower stool than that which he is sat upon, thus giving all his colleagues the idea that this is the way in which you deal with dissidents who refuse to not ask ‘why’.
        Course, for the future and hindsight is a wonderful thing, when you next ask a question of Hanratty and he repeats his childish behaviour, you simply stop, go quiet and wait for him to look your way, stop doodling and give you the impression that his ears, which God equipped him with, are listening to a matter that many believe is important.
        This dear John is a clip of film that won’t go unnoticed by The Leaks, Cardin, James, Nigel and all the others who I’m sure can be easily persuaded that they now no longer like Hanratty’s head and in time, once a few thoughts about this Councillors behaviour are transmitted, he, bloody Hanratty will soon realise the folly of attempting to stop the public using a lawful statutory instrument to try and find out why they’re kicking the arse out if expenses, why seven hundred thousand pounds was misappropriated from vulnerable people by the Council and why corruption was allowed to pass unchecked and unnoticed resulting in Griffths and Hobro having to blow their whistles.
        Do I think Hanratty is going to regret his rudeness? I certainly do and if I’m ever given the golden opportunity to glance at the lower parts of his body, namely the waist, the arse, the thighs, legs and both feet, even if they’re clubbed, I’ll dislike them as well.
        You carry on doing exactly what you do John and help the people of the Wirral learn a little more about how costly democracy can be when governed by the likes of Councillor Hanratty.

        • At the time I was saying the question I was reading it, so I didn’t get a chance to read his body language.

          I was standing up when I stated what I said, so it was impossible for Cllr Hanratty to literally look down on me.

          I’ve been insulted by people all my life, so don’t worry about that I have a thick skin. 😀

          As to your hindsight point, before I made the delegation I was aware I could be asked questions on it. However as the expenses referred to include those to do with Cllr Hanratty (I notice he and none of the other eighteen councillors actually declared an interest in this item), I thought councillors would have the good sense to not ask questions on such an issue.

          However by the way Labour councillors obviously had a meeting before the meeting I would suspect there was pressure from his colleagues to draw a line under this issue as I hear on the grapevine that the Labour Party has written to some councillors that getting taxis to and from public meetings isn’t a great idea. 😀

          Labour councillors usually have a background in the trade unions. They therefore often behave like a trade union representative sticking up for the workers. Cllr Hanratty is of course going to be told by the workers (and his fellow councillors) that nothing is amiss, that I have it wrong, that I’m being a nuisance etc and he will even (perhaps unwittingly if I’m being generous) go so far as to make things up (hence the hobby point of his).

          I think the gist of what he said can be summed up by my summary of you’re a troublemaker and we’ve had enough of this!

          As a politician, he’s supposed to act in the public interest, but in local government world sadly some politicians become mouthpieces for others.

          The treasurer is sitting on the left of that video. However the treasurer during the time period this happened has been made redundant and no longer works for Merseyside Fire and Rescue Service.

          When councillors are foolish enough to just repeat what other people ask them to the politicians get the blame if they repeat things that turn out to be untrue.

          The issues to do with the £700,000, vulnerable people, Griffiths and Hobro etc are to do with Wirral Council.

          Although there are 4 Wirral Council councillors on the Merseyside Fire and Rescue Authority, basically all that Wirral Council does connected to the Merseyside Fire and Rescue Service/Merseyside Fire and Rescue Authority is collect council tax from Wirral residents that then goes on to fund the Merseyside Fire and Rescue Authoirty/Merseyside Fire and Rescue Service. The whole point of the councillors on the MFRA is to have some oversight as to how this is then spent.

          Personally I don’t think (from Cllr Hanratty’s perspective) that Cllr Hanratty thought he was being rude, I think he was pressured into taking the line he took as politician’s expenses are a can of worms that the last thing politicians want is for the ~1.4 million people on Merseyside and others (such as their own political party) to know what they’re being spent on.

          Each year the political groups within the district councils decide which councillors to nominate as that council’s representative to the Merseyside Fire and Rescue Authority. So their future ability to be claiming extra expenses and allowances is dependent on political patronage.

          I suspect there is far more to this allowances/expenses matter than I actually know about. However the message is they would prefer it if I stopped digging and doing my job.

        • I read this article in the newspaper about tax credits and it reminded me of your style of writing bobby47.

          So is Mark Steel copying your style or did you copy his?

          Or is Mark Steel from the same part of the world you’re from?

          Just curious.

          All the best from the Wirral.

          John

  8. G’day Bobby47

    My love and admiration for you and all you say just grows deeper and deeper.

    I didn’t realise till you spoke up of the depth of hatred I have for the current 66 and a few senior officers that make Wirral the most improved council in the country the stinking rotten fetid cesspit it actually is.

    If you can defend AdderleyDadderlyDooDah Britain’s most credulous man and the Wirralgate gang what indeed are you really capable of?

    Absolutely no credibility or decency, a disgrace to their families.

    It starts at the top Bobby with “Phil the Very Very Deluded Dill” having to have a turd polisher by the name of Fartin Lobsterpot at great expense.

    Handy he lives next door on the Costa Del West Kirby he can go round and give him a quick polish before work each morning. Work ha ha.

    I took a good deal of time Bobster writing an email to the fearless CEO of Wirral and the childish little scumbag that ran and hid under his desk when approached by Paul couldn’t be bothered acknowledging it.

    He didn’t even say thanks Jimbo mate and mate of a hero of mine Bobby47 what brings you to email me?

    Eff all Bobby.

    Nothing.

    Ooroo

    James

    Ps Actually Bobby just between you and me I don’t real hate them I just have sympathy, disgust and disrespect for the poor sad souls’ and their children they can’t help it pathetic sheep misled by their leaders.

  9. […] That was about what I said at a meeting of the Merseyside Fire and Rescue Authority to the Chair Cllr Dave Hanratty…. […]


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