15. Records of Allowances
(3) As soon as reasonably practicable after the end of a year to which the scheme relates, an authority shall make arrangements for the publication within the authority’s area of the total sum paid by it in the year under the scheme to each recipient in respect of each of the following—
(a) basic allowance;
(b) special responsibility allowance;
(c) dependants’ carers’ allowance;
(d) travelling and subsistence allowance; and
(e) co-optees’ allowance.
In that letter Janet Henshaw (Monitoring Officer for Merseyside Fire and Rescue Service) writing on behalf of the Wirral councillors wrote:
“It was not possible to show travel & event bookings made directly by MFRA [Merseyside Fire and Rescue Authority] (as opposed to members paying and then claiming back their allowances) due to the fact that this Authority uses an electronic software system to make each booking at the cheapest possible price for both members and officers. We were invoiced monthly in the last year for both Officers and Members without differentiation. Thus it would have been a wholly unreasonable use of scare resources to break this down each month between the two groups and then each and every individual.”
CFO on one of the receipts refers to the Chief Fire Officer Dan Stephens. DCFO refers to the Deputy Chief Fire Officer Phil Garrigan. As some of the names of the councillors below will be unfamiliar to readers I include a key below. The key has the name of the councillor, political party, which local authority they represent (or represented as Cllr Ted Grannell and Cllr Tony Newman are no longer on the Fire Authority) and whether they hold the position of Chair or Vice-Chair on Merseyside Fire and Rescue Authority.
Cllr Dave Hanratty, Labour, Liverpool, Chair Cllr Linda Maloney, Labour, St Helens, Vice-Chair Cllr Leslie T Byrom, Labour, Sefton, Vice-Chair Cllr Ted Grannell (down on invoice as Ted Grenell), Labour, Knowsley Cllr Tony Newman, Labour, Knowsley Cllr Steve Niblock, Labour, Wirral
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14 thoughts on “49 pages of secret expenses on fruit cake, stays at the Hilton, first class travel & taxis for councillors”
This is whats called as taking the piss!
Me for writing about it or the councillors for doing it?
I’m sure you know the answer to that question John!
Shame and disgrace on you MFRA/MFRS members who sit, bemoaning cuts and boo-hooing about the effects of these cuts and the, inevitable, increased ‘life- risk’ to all Merseyside residents, especially the most vulnerable..
If you are that bothered or concerned, don’t be such greedy, monstrous cannibals- fruitcakes stuffing your bellies with fruitcake,
Shame, shame, shame!
I see the publication of these expense claims has touched a raw nerve.
Well done to you John. Superb work. Businesslike, focussed and factual.
This amounts to a step-by-step dismantling of every justification they’ve ever put up for …
“Our inability to do anything in the face of these Tory cuts”.
Each of one of these greedy, reckless, extravagant claims drives another nail into the coffins of accountability and public oversight.
“You will use public transport,
And stay at B&Bs,
We will lunch at The Hilton,
And we will do as we please.”
They are no more than vampires, fixed onto a fat vein and draining the lifeblood of local citizens. We, the public, the infinite source of wealth and provider of this fruitful bounty, just have to carry on paying our council tax, funding their London based, 5 star awards ceremonies (Wirral’s “Most Improved Council” comes to mind) and continue doing it under the threat of incarceration if we resist.
Hideous, is the only word.
Sadly, unlike the expenses of MPs which were reformed since the MP expenses scandal and are now published in detail online, councillors have been used to far less scrutiny of expenditure relating to their role.
Personally I think as a minimum level of openness and transparency that the monthly basis expense claims of councillors (whether paid directly by them or indirectly by the public body) should be published. An annual total for each councillor can hide a lot of detail as to what the expenditure is actually for. Here’s a link to the published expenses for Dumfries & Galloway Council.
The annual list includes both payments where the councillors have claimed the money back and where the cost has been directly met by the Council.
For each month, here’s an example for July 2015 that Council publishes claim forms submitted by councillors sorted by councillor name.
Sadly, I suspect there would only be these levels of openness and transparency locally if there was a legal obligation on local councils, the fire authority etc to do so even though I think the legal requirements surrounding councillors expenses are broadly similar in Scotland to those in England.
Mr Cardin, they have gone beyond incarceration believe me, Cars driven to with inches of your legs, Thugs and hooligans in and about the area causing problems on your ground. I do hope it will not be long before these people are incarcerated
These people are at the wheels of slash and burn policies while whooping it up on the gravy train. This is because they are allowed to as part of the establishment ‘elite’. So comforting to Labout find these little perks that no one shouts about it nowadays. Maybe Mr Corbyn will.
Well put it this way, councillors can’t claim for duck houses, moat cleaning, claim mortgage interest for phantom mortgages that don’t exist or the other outrageous things that some MPs did. Even members of the House of Lords were shown to be abusing their expenses system.
However the national politicians could get away with it because there was no effective press or public scrutiny of their expenses and attempts through FOI requests to reveal the details of MP expenses were blocked at every turn (which eventually led to the Speaker resigning). I think some MPs even went so far as to try to change the law to make sure that FOI didn’t apply to such matters. In the end the Telegraph only got the information by being willing to pay £110,000 for the information.
Councillors have far less public scrutiny of what they do than MPs do. Councillors claiming expenses from public bodies cover a county such as the fire authority, transport authority or waste authority probably have less scrutiny over their activities than those that happen at their local council.
So what can the ‘average’ person without a brain of your capacity do?
I can’t just keep finding out this stuff, absorbing and carrying on regardless – just accepting (after a bit of a rant maybe) that because these people are allowed to, they do, with no shame, conscience or dignity.
I’ve given replying to this comment a lot of thought.
The short answer is I don’t know. I still have a lot more MFRA councillors expenses claims to publish and at least one of the pages they did show me had all the amounts cut off due to someone at MFRS putting it in the photocopier at 90 degrees.
Politicians usually have a very thick skin, but they don’t like being embarrassed in front of their peers. This falls into the "embarrassment" category.
Saying "NO!" is the first step to the system being changed but it’s not really my place to change the system, that has to come from the people demanding it. Some change has already happened…
Here’s a quote on politicians to finish:
"Let me be clear – no one is above the law. Not a politician, not a priest, not a criminal, not a police officer. We are all accountable for our actions."
Thank you for your reply John.
3 copies of the identical, ‘salmon and coke receipt’ and now, however many pages of useless information photocopied.
This could be a great opportunity for an ex MFRS member- Kieran Timmins maybe? He could register a business, avoid the RFQ process and act as a, very expensive consultant, advising MFRS members on how to use a photocopier!
To return a quote:
“I’m not so foolish as to think truth and justice must inevitably triumph simply because they deserve to, but liars ultimately destroy the things they lie to protect, and corruption, ambition and betrayal inevitably betray themselves as well.” (David Weber)
From what I remember Kieran Timmins has a job elsewhere.
As to the “salmon and coke” matter it’s simple really. Either you:
a) detach the receipts from the expenses form and photocopy them separately, after you have finished reattached them (for example with a staple) or
b) when photocopying use another thick piece of paper to cover over what you don’t want to copy.
Thanks for the returned quote.
I am beginning to think that further measures are needed to deal with MFRS/MFRA to ensure a positive conclusions to outstanding matters.
Please John, continue with that train of thought – “…further measures…” I do hope so.
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