Wirral Council paid a day rate of over £700 a day for some agency staff!

Wirral Council paid a day rate of over £700 a day for some agency staff!

Wirral Council paid a day rate of over £700 a day for some agency staff!

                                    

Matrix SCM Ltd Wirral Council 20th December 2017 £308534.18
Matrix SCM Ltd Wirral Council 20th December 2017 £308534.18

During the public inspection period I requested copies of a number of invoices from Matrix SCM Ltd to Wirral Council for agency staff. An example of one of those invoices for £308,534.18 (which doesn’t state much detail) is above.

Agency staff are provided by Matrix SCM Ltd to Wirral Council on either an hourly rate or day rate. In addition to this there can also be claims for mileage, parking and tunnel tolls.
Continue reading “Wirral Council paid a day rate of over £700 a day for some agency staff!”

Expense claim forms for Councillor Phil Davies (Wirral Council) 2013 to 2014

Expense claim forms for Councillor Phil Davies (Wirral Council) 2013 to 2014

Expense claim forms for Councillor Phil Davies (Wirral Council) 2013 to 2014

                                                                 

Updated 22nd October 2014: A further page was provided for Councillor Phil Davies on the 17th October which is detailed here.

The next in this series of expenses claims is that for Councillor Phil Davies (a Labour councillor for Birkenhead and Tranmere ward). As part of the 2013-14 audit I requested the underlying claim forms for these claims from councillors and other underlying financial information. Personally I think in the interests of openness and transparency these should be published on a monthly basis, although there is now no legal requirement on Wirral Council to publish anything other than annual totals once a year.

Councillors are paid these amounts through the payroll system at Wirral Council and certain details were redacted from each form before I was given copies. These are matters such as councillor’s signatures, car registration numbers and officer names/signatures.

I haven’t been given a list of what’s been redacted from each form, but I was told this information. The forms were given to me this morning alphabetically by councillor surname, so the second in this series (which started with another councillor called Davies, but not Phil but George) is Councillor Phil Davies.

These are for expenses claimed during the 2013-14 financial year (so should cover the period from the 1st April 2013 to the 31st March 2014). If anything it shows the public how busy Councillor Phil Davies has been in that year, however as Leader of the Council that’s to be expected.

I did also ask for the underlying financial information to support these claims forms such as receipts, but the person I originally made the request to is now on holiday and such paperwork has not been provided to me (yet). Who knows what will happen in the near future as the 30th September 2014 deadline fast approaches?

Cllr Phil Davies expense claim 2013 2014 page 1
Cllr Phil Davies expense claim 2013 2014 page 1
Cllr Phil Davies expense claim 2013 2014 page 2
Cllr Phil Davies expense claim 2013 2014 page 2
Cllr Phil Davies expense claim 2013 2014 page 3
Cllr Phil Davies expense claim 2013 2014 page 3
Cllr Phil Davies expense claim 2013 2014 page 4
Cllr Phil Davies expense claim 2013 2014 page 4
Cllr Phil Davies expense claim 2013 2014 page 5
Cllr Phil Davies expense claim 2013 2014 page 5
Cllr Phil Davies expense claim 2013 2014 page 6
Cllr Phil Davies expense claim 2013 2014 page 6
Cllr Phil Davies expense claim 2013 2014 page 7
Cllr Phil Davies expense claim 2013 2014 page 7
Cllr Phil Davies expense claim 2013 2014 page 8
Cllr Phil Davies expense claim 2013 2014 page 8

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Expense claim forms for Councillor George Davies (Wirral Council) 2013 to 2014

Expense claim forms for Councillor George Davies (Wirral Council) 2013 to 2014

                                                                 

Wirral Council councillors in addition to what they get paid for their official duties (called allowances), they also have an expenses system too. As part of the 2013-14 audit (as I have a legal right to) I requested the underlying claim forms for these claims and other related bits and pieces. Personally I think like the MP expenses issue, these in the interests of openness and transparency should be published on a monthly basis, although there is no legal requirement on Wirral Council to publish anything other than annual totals once a year.

Councillors are paid such amounts through the payroll system at Wirral Council and certain details have been redacted from each form before I was given copies. These are matters such as councillor’s signatures, car registration numbers and officer names/signatures.

I haven’t been given a list of what’s been redacted from each form, but I have been told this information. The forms were given to me this morning alphabetically by councillor surname, so the first in this series is Councillor George Davies (who is a Labour councillor for Claughton ward).

These are for expenses claimed during the 2013-14 financial year (so should cover the period from the 1st April 2013 to the 31st March 2014). If anything it shows the public how busy Councillor George Davies has been that year, ranging from his duties as a Cabinet Member, his work on the Pension Committee to other matters he is involved in.

I did also request the underlying financial information to support these claims forms such as receipts, but the guy I originally made the request to is on holiday and such paperwork has not been provided to me (yet). Who knows what will happen in the near future as the 30th September 2014 deadline fast approaches?

Updated 21/10/2014: A further four pages of Cllr George Davies’ expense claim forms were provided on the 17th October 2014.

Cllr George Davies expense claim 2013 2014 page 1

Cllr George Davies expense claim 2013 2014 page 2

Cllr George Davies expense claim 2013 2014 page 3

Cllr George Davies expense claim 2013 2014 page 4

Cllr George Davies expense claim 2013 2014 page 5
Cllr George Davies expense claim 2013 2014 page 5
Cllr George Davies expense claim 2013 2014 page 6
Cllr George Davies expense claim 2013 2014 page 6
Cllr George Davies expense claim 2013 2014 page 7
Cllr George Davies expense claim 2013 2014 page 7
Cllr George Davies expense claim 2013 2014 page 8
Cllr George Davies expense claim 2013 2014 page 8
Cllr George Davies expense claim 2013 2014 page 9
Cllr George Davies expense claim 2013 2014 page 9
Cllr George Davies expense claim 2013 2014 page 10
Cllr George Davies expense claim 2013 2014 page 10

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Merseytravel respond on Mersey Tunnels issues – Fast Tag, Disability

Prior to yesterday’s meeting at Merseytravel, I submitted some questions about certain aspects of the Mersey Tunnel Tolls changes . A Merseytravel spokesperson responded today. Their answers are below the original questions.

Q1) Is the difference in price charged between Fast Tag holders and cash payers because of increased costs to Merseytravel regarding the latter?

A) No, this about marketing the convenience of this system for regular commuters.

Q2) Regarding 4.24 in the report, would this report mentioned be available on Thursday or will it only be prepared if the recommendation is passed?

A) A review of concessions will now be undertaken, after the recommendation was approved.

Q3) There are references throughout the report to the County of Merseyside Act 1980 as amended by the Mersey Tunnels Act 2004, in relation to the increases in tolls and discount structure. However it seems (at least to me) misleading to include references to the legal basis behind the other proposed recommendations, but not in 4.24. As I have pointed out in previous correspondence, the authority does this using its powers under s.92 ss.1(a) of the County of Merseyside Act 1980 as amended by the Mersey Tunnels Act 2004. It seems strange the tunnels legislation would be referenced elsewhere, but not here. Is this just an oversight?

A) This is covered by the Act. The general power to offer concessions is actually to be found at s.92C(a)(c) – the Authority has power to allow a class of traffic to use the tunnels on payment of tolls at a reduced rate, “on such occasions or in such other circumstances as it may from time to time determine”. In other words, the authority can review concessions from time to time and it would be remiss if it did not do so, as it was proposed here. Thus this recommendation is a proper one, with a firm legal basis. There is no particular need to mention this legal reference, but equally nothing sinister in its absence.

A) A review of concessions will now be undertaken, after the recommendation to investigate the issue was approved.

Q4) Have the legal implications of removing the current exemption for Blue Badge holders (and other disabled users) been thought through, regarding the authority’s legal duties under the Equalities Act 2010 and other relevant legislation?

Q5) What would be the cost implications to Merseytravel if Blue Badge holders were charged?

A) (to questions 4 and 5) These issues will be covered in the review, all considerations taken into account.

Q6) If a report is agreed reviewing this, which Merseytravel committee will it go to and when will it be considered?

A) It will be reported to the P&R committee and/or the Equalities Committee, in an appropriately timely manner to enable due consideration of all the issues concerned.

Q7) Will the Merseytravel Access Panel (public or affected disabled users of the tunnel) be consulted on any changes?

A) It will be consulted upon in an appropriate manner.

Clearly if the report recommends charging disabled users of Mersey Tunnels it’s going to be something the disability associations, charities and disabled drivers on Merseyside will have a view on. P&R refers to Merseytravel’s Policy and Resources Committee.

Labour use casting vote to increase Mersey Tunnel tolls from April 2011

Labour use casting vote to increase Mersey Tunnel tolls from April 2011

                                              

Labour councillor and Merseytravel Chair Cllr Mark Dowd used his casting vote this afternoon after Merseytravel councillors were deadlocked in a 9:9 vote over whether to increase tunnel tolls.

A Liberal Democrat amendment proposed to have no increase in the Mersey Tunnel charges, but to still to ask for a further report as to whether the existing toll concessions for disabled users was “justified or appropriate”. Conservatives tabled two amendments. The first was to keep toll charges at 2010 level and reduce charges for Fast Tag users by 10p, keeping the existing concessions for disabled drivers. The second Conservative amendment also was to keep toll charges at 2010 levels and keep the existing concessions for disabled drivers.

During his amendment Lib Dem Cllr Millea commented on earlier “childish exchanges while members of the public were present” between Cllr Dowd and Cllr Blakeley during an earlier heated debate over taxis used to send reports to councillors and a spat over how criticism by Cllr Blakeley of a Merseytravel officer during a previous meeting was reported in the minutes.

Cllr Millea said in that for the past thirty years they had been asking government to scrap the tolls and the answer had been the same. He believed there was sufficient scope in the budget to keep the tolls at their current levels.

From April 1st 2011, the tolls will rise to the following. Figures in brackets are rise from 2010/2011:-

Vehicle Class 2011/12 Cash Toll 2011/2012 Fast Tag Toll
1 £1.50 (+10p) £1.30 (+10p)
2 £3.00 (+20p) £2.60 (+20p)
3 £4.50 (+30p) £3.90 (+30p)
4 £6.00 (+40p) £5.20 (+40p)

      

Class 1 M/cycle with sidecar, car up to 3.5 tonnes, light goods vehicles up to 3.5 tonnes, passenger carrying vehicle (less than 9 people)
Class 2 Private/light goods vehicle up to 3.5 tonnes with trailer, 2 axle HGV over 3.5 tonnes, 2 axle passenger carrying vehicle for more than 9 passengers
Class 3 3 axle HGV over 3.5 tonnes, 3 axle passenger carrying vehicle carrying more than 9 passengers
Class 4 HGV over 3.5 tonnes with four or more axles