Which Liverpool City Council councillors recommended themselves a 1% pay rise?

Which Liverpool City Council councillors recommended themselves a 1% pay rise?

Which Liverpool City Council councillors recommended themselves a 1% pay rise?

                          

Constitutional Issues Committee (Liverpool City Council) 9th May 2017 left Chris Walsh right Cllr Alan Dean
Constitutional Issues Committee (Liverpool City Council) 9th May 2017 left Chris Walsh right Cllr Alan Dean



 

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Constitutional Issues Committee (Liverpool City Council) 9th May 2017 Agenda Item 9 Scheme of Member Allowances 2017/18 This item starts at 17:54 in the video above.

Now the local elections are over (although thanks to the government nationally there’s also a general election), I was present yesterday afternoon for a public meeting of Liverpool City Council’s Constitutional Issues Committee.

During the election campaigns for councillors and Metro Mayor, I’m sure many people told political parties and politicians of the “big issues” that people wanted sorted out.

So councillors have listened, and in one of the first recommendations after the local elections have recommended to award themselves a pay rise.

Interestingly based on comments made by those at the meeting at Liverpool City Council at least one councillor stated she was deterred from claiming expenses because they’re worried the Liverpool Echo would criticise them for doing so.

Wirral Council councillors on the other hand, have their spokesperson Cllr Adrian Jones to state it’s not reasonable for the press and public to know what councillors claiming in expenses and these are kept a secret on the Wirral.

Of course the last Labour government made it a law that all expenses claimed by councillors had to be open to public inspection.

Moving swiftly back to Liverpool City Council councillors though. The report from the Independent Panel was a late report dated the day before the meeting, so Chris Walsh was busy handing out copies to councillors in the minutes before the meeting started.

The report encourages councillors to claim legitimate expenses, although a number of councillors pointed out that Merseytravel already provide them with free travel on public transport. Taxis had been mentioned earlier in the meeting, but in the context of criticism about Wirral registered taxis coming over to Liverpool.

So what are Liverpool’s politicians paid at the moment? Well the Mayor of Liverpool Joe Anderson is paid a base amount of £79,500, councillors each receive a base amount of £10,077.

Councillors also receive IT equipment (along with access to Council systems), car park passes, “Group Office Member support” (which means staff), printing, stationery, postage costs and surgery costs (up to a maximum of £330 a year).

There is a childcare allowance (only for children up to thirteen) and dependant carer’s allowance. If councillors are representing Liverpool City Council on outside bodies they’re not allowed to “double claim” from that body and Liverpool City Council.

Travel and subsistence claims can also be made, including international travel. There are a range of special responsibility allowances (which are in addition to the base amount) ranging from Deputy Mayor (£28,620) to Whip of Main Opposition Group (if that group has over 20% of the councillors) of £4,209.

Councillors on outside bodies, just to give one example Cllr Dave Hanratty as Chair of Merseyside Fire and Rescue Authority receives an extra ~£27k.

So back to what councillors said at the public meeting.

Firstly, the Labour Chair Cllr Alan Dean said Liverpool City councillors should be paid more because of what other councillors on Merseyside are paid.

Cllr Richard Kemp (Leader of the Liberal Democrat councillors on Liverpool City Council) said they would not oppose the pay rise.

On the subject of expenses, a councillor then said that she did not want to be mocked on the front page of the Liverpool Echo for claiming expenses.

Councillor Richard Kemp stated that he couldn’t afford the £140-£150 train fare when he went to London so claimed it on expenses, but that Liverpool City Council paid at a discounted rate due to his senior citizens card.

The Chair Cllr Alan Dean stated that politicians shouldn’t be carrying out their functions at a financial loss or gain. He referred to his public transport pass that Merseytravel issue him with. Cllr Richard Kemp confirmed he has a Merseytravel pass too.

The recommendation for a pay rise will be formally agreed at a future public meeting of all 90 Liverpool City Council councillors and the elected Mayor at Liverpool Town Hall.

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Why does this invoice for the Holiday Inn, York come to more than the £1,155.19 Merseyside Fire and Rescue Service paid for it in January 2016?

Why does this invoice for the Holiday Inn, York come to more than the £1,155.19 Merseyside Fire and Rescue Service paid for it in January 2016?

Why does this invoice for the Holiday Inn, York come to more than the £1,155.19 Merseyside Fire and Rescue Service paid for it in January 2016?

                                                    

Declaration of interest: The author of this piece is the Appellant in a First-Tier Tribunal case in which Merseyside Fire and Rescue Authority is the Second Respondent (EA/2016/0054).

Below is an invoice unearthed during my citizen’s audit of Merseyside Fire and Rescue Service. It appears to be for three not specified people in “Team Merseyside” at the Holiday Inn in York from the 27th December 2015 to the 1st January 2016.

It’s the first page of a multi page invoice from the Holiday Inn York. Sadly Merseyside Fire and Rescue Authority failed to provide the rest of the invoice as requested within the 30 working day deadline.

The payment is listed as £1,155.19 made on the 1st January 2016 to the Holiday Inn York. This amount doesn’t include VAT.

However the total on page one of the invoice comes to £1,638.48.

Even if you add the VAT to the amount paid at a rate of 20%, £1,155.19 * 120% only comes to £1,386.23p so it doesn’t make much sense to me.

However it’s possible although a dinner was included in the £80 a night price, that the room charges for bar food, room charges for rest food and a room charge for rest beverage were paid out of a different budget or by someone else. Or possibly some sort of discount was applied on the second missing page! Certainly the second page of the invoice would clear a lot of this up!

I could ask Merseyside Fire and Rescue Authority to provide the missing page or pages but they’ve already been quite cross at me (after charging me £40 for copies) at how much officer time is involved in finding an invoice for the inspection and how they couldn’t charge me for the inspection etc etc.

After all there are only have three hundred or so administrative staff working at Merseyside Fire and Rescue Service. Which when you consider all they have to do such as employee payroll, invoices, day-to-day admin it probably isn’t enough staff when you consider my request for invoices during the 30 day inspection period seemed to take at least between around nine and a dozen staff at Merseyside Fire and Rescue Service to deal with (maybe the costs they refer to are their own unique way of doing things?)

I won’t bother their auditors Grant Thornton with these sorts of trifling anomalies as their response is usually just we don’t know, ask Merseyside Fire and Rescue Service!

As their press office appear to be under instructions not to give out quotes on behalf of Merseyside Fire and Rescue Service to me I haven’t asked them for a quote either before publishing as it seems to be a futile exercise.

Holiday Inn York invoice Merseyside Fire and Rescue Service 1st January 2016 resized
Holiday Inn York invoice Merseyside Fire and Rescue Service 1st January 2016 resized

Holiday Inn York
Tadcaster Road
York, YO24 1QF
United Kingdom
Tel: +44(0)8719429085
Fax: +44(O)1904702804
mailto:reservations@hiyorkhotel.co.uk

(Holiday Inn logo)
Holiday Inn

Team Merseyside
Gb
ELLESMERE PORT LITTL
ch66 4py

Bill 2016000024
Date 01/01/2016
Room 037 Twin Room Non
Arrival 27/12/2015
Departure 01/01/2016
CRS Confirmation 61146719

Holiday Inn, York

Date Description Supplement Qty. Price Amount
27/12 Accommodation Dinner Brea 033 Merseyside, Team 1 80.00 80.00
27/12 Accommodation Dinner Brea 1 80.00 80.00
27/12 Accommodation Dinner Brea 214 Merseyside, Team 1 80.00 80.00
28/12 Accommodation Dinner Brea 033 Merseyside, Team 1 80.00 80.00
28/12 Accommodation Dinner Brea 1 80.00 80.00
28/12 Accommodation Dinner Brea 214 Merseyside, Team 1 80.00 80.00
28/12 Dinner Food Incl inc -1 36.00 -36.00
28/12 Room Charge Bar Food Check:2015051345 1 47.25 47.25
29/12 Accommodation Dinner Brea 033 Merseyside, Team 1 80.00 80.00
29/12 Accommodation Dinner Brea 1 80.00 80.00
29/12 Accommodation Dinner Brea 214 Merseyside, Team 1 80.00 80.00
29/12 Dinner Food Incl inc -1 36.00 -36.00
29/12 Room Charge Bar Food Check:2015051765 1 64.70 64.70
30/12 Accommodation Dinner Brea 033 Merseyside, Team 1 80.00 80.00
30/12 Accommodation Dinner Brea 1 80.00 80.00
30/12 Accommodation Dinner Brea 214 Merseyside, Team 1 80.00 80.00
30/12 Dinner Food Incl inc 033 Merseyside, Team -1 27.10 -27.10
30/12 Dinner Food Incl inc -1 36.00 -36.00
30/12 Room Charge Rest Food Check:2015051959 1 21.90 21.90
30/12 Room Charge Rest Food Check:2015051962 033 Mers 1 19.15 19.15
30/12 Room Charge Rest Food Check:2015052009 1 5.95 5.95
30/12 Room Charge Rest Food Check:2015052011 033 Mers 1 7.95 7.95
30/12 Room Charge Bar Food Check:2015051893 1 62.08 62.08
31/12 Accommodation Dinner Brea 033 Merseyside, Team 1 80.00 80.00
31/12 Accommodation Dinner Brea 1 80.00 80.00
31/12 Accommodation Dinner Brea 214 Merseyside, Team 1 80.00 80.00
31/12 Room Charge Rest Food Check:2015052073 1 85.70 85.70
31/12 Room Charge Rest Food Check:2015052173 1 108.80 108.80
31/12 Room Charge Rest Beverage Check:2015052073 1 15.00 15.00

This hotel is owned and operated by Kew Green Hotels (York) Limited under license from IHG Hotels.
Registered Office 2nd Floor, Dome Building, The Quadrant, Richmond, Surrey, TW9 1DT
Company Registration 9096181, VAT Number 798600878


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Should Cllr Denise Roberts pay back £3.80 claimed in postage to Merseyside Fire and Rescue Authority?

Should Cllr Denise Roberts pay back £3.80 claimed in postage to Merseyside Fire and Rescue Authority?

Should Cllr Denise Roberts pay back £3.80 claimed in postage to Merseyside Fire and Rescue Authority?

                               

Councillor Denise Roberts (Chair, Standards and Constitutional Oversight Committee at Wirral Council) 6th July 2016
Councillor Denise Roberts (Chair, Standards and Constitutional Oversight Committee at Wirral Council) 6th July 2016

Below is a £3.80 claim made by Cllr Denise Roberts when she was on the Merseyside Fire and Rescue Authority for postage.

Apparently some papers for a Merseyside Fire and Rescue Authority meeting were sent to her with the incorrect postage on so she put in an expense claim (on the travel and subsistence form) for £3.80.

The receipt from Royal Mail is included.

Let’s hope Merseyside Fire and Rescue Service know to put the right postage on mail in the future!

Councillor Denise Roberts £3.80 postage 29th June 2015 Page 1 of 2 resized
Councillor Denise Roberts £3.80 postage 29th June 2015 Page 1 of 2 resized
Councillor Denise Roberts £3.80 postage 29th June 2015 Page 2 of 2 resized
Councillor Denise Roberts £3.80 postage 29th June 2015 Page 2 of 2 resized

She got somebody else working in Merseyside Fire and Rescue Services called Nicholas Pitcher to sign the form on her behalf.

Postage isn’t one of the categories that councillors can usually claim at MFRA as expenses. From allegedly both a legal and constitutional perspective this is wrong too. When the annual list was published for 2015/16 as there is no postage category allowed, it appeared in the travel and subsistence category as you can see from the list published on MFRA’s website.

Her basic allowance of an extra £8,070 for being on the Merseyside Fire and Rescue Authority is supposed to cover such incidental expenses such as this £3.80 postage but Cllr Denise Roberts chose to claim it back.

At the time of this claim Cllr Denise Roberts was Chair of Merseyside Fire and Rescue Authority’s Audit Sub-Committee (which is also the Committee at Merseyside Fire and Rescue Authority that dealt with complaints about councillors).

Should Cllr Roberts pay the £3.80 back? Please leave a comment giving your view.

Cllr Denise Roberts stopped being on the Merseyside Fire and Rescue Authority in May 2016 when Wirral Council chose a different councillor to represent the Labour Group from Wirral.

Cllr Denise Roberts is now Chair of Wirral Council’s Standards and Constitutional Oversight Committee which has oversight of complaints made about councillors.

Merseyside Fire and Rescue Service were quite insistent yesterday that they would not allow us to take away paper copies of Cllr Denise Roberts’ expense claim (which is why the above is a photo). This is despite a legal requirement in the Local Audit and Accountability Act 2014, s.26(1)(b) that allows us to make copies.

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What does the Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner for Merseyside spend money on?

What does the Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner for Merseyside spend money on?

                                                    

Jane Kennedy (left), the current Police and Crime Commissioner for Merseyside and Labour Party candidate in the 2016 elections for a Police and Crime Commissioner for Merseyside at a public meeting of the Police and Fire Collaboration Committee (2015)
Jane Kennedy (left), the current Police and Crime Commissioner for Merseyside and Labour Party candidate in the 2016 elections for a Police and Crime Commissioner for Merseyside at a public meeting of the Police and Fire Collaboration Committee (2015)

Following yesterday’s blog post about the election statements of the Police and Crime Commissioner candidates, I had a look at the website of the Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner for Merseyside.

The expenses for the Police and Crime Commissioner and Deputy Police and Crime Commissioner are published quarterly. You might wonder why a Police and Crime Commissioner (on a salary of £85,000 a year) doesn’t just pay for train travel to London and accommodation herself. Expenses only covers tickets in standard class by train, but as the Police and Crime Commissioner prefers to travel by first class, she pays the difference herself between the standard class and first class fares.
Continue reading “What does the Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner for Merseyside spend money on?”

Which Wirral Council councillor made 38 taxi journeys in 6 months?

Which Wirral Council councillor made 38 taxi journeys in 6 months?

Which Wirral Council councillor made 38 taxi journeys in 6 months?

                                                       

Eye Cab taxi invoice Wirral Council councillors
Eye Cab taxi invoice Wirral Council councillors

Yesterday Wirral Council responded to my FOI request for the more recent invoices from Eye Cab Limited for taxi journeys by councillors.

These don’t include taxi journeys where councillors have paid for the taxi themselves and then claimed back the cost.

Sadly, due to a lot of missing pages (curiously always the ones with councillors’ names on them), plus a number of pages scanned at such low quality making them very difficult to read, I’ve requested an internal review.

There was an £85 taxi journey listed on page 5. By the price list published on my blog here it comes to a taxi journey of around 67 and a half miles.

Sadly the second page of the invoice that invoice from May 2015 that would state who undertook this unusually long journey is not supplied. The invoice itself is of such low quality it’s hard to read how far this journey was. However if you’re going on a journey that far why not take the train instead?

In fact if the journey was by a councillor then Wirral Council’s constitution states (members means councillors):

8. Travel and Subsistence

Travel Costs

8.1 Travel costs incurred by members in performing “approved duties” as specified in Schedule 2 to this Scheme shall be reimbursed at the prevailing public transport rates, provided that the use of taxis or members’ private motor vehicles may be permitted where public transport is either not available, or the journey by public transport would be likely to result in unreasonable delay.”

Sadly as Wirral Council didn’t respond properly to this FOI request it’s impossible to tell whether a councillor took this journey or not!

However over the 6 months of invoices where names were supplied, here are how many taxi journeys were undertaken by each councillor at the taxpayers’ expense. For shared journeys I’ve counted it as one journey for each councillor sharing the taxi:

Cllr Moira McLaughlin (38)
Cllr Steve Niblock (23)
Cllr Bill Davies (13)
Cllr Irene Williams (5)
Cllr Pat Williams (2)
Cllr Kathy Hodson (1)
Cllr Denise Roberts (1)
Cllr Phil Davies (1)

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