Monday, 28 February 2011

Torfaen councillor’s referendum motion ‘illegal’

A MOTION submitted for a Torfaen council meeting tomorrow was pulled as it breached an election law.

The motion, proposed by Fairwater councillor Jeff Rees, said: "Torfaen council supports full law-making powers within the devolved areas for the Welsh Assembly.

“This will speed up the democratic process in Wales and do away with the cumbersome process we currently have, for the benefit of both national and local government."

The motion would have been voted on just two days before the Referendum on Thursday but was pulled from the meeting's agenda after it was found to contravene part of the Political Parties, Elections and Referendums Act 2000.

[Cllr Haynes]  said she reiterated her concern to the legal and monitoring officer and specifically asked for the motion to be pulled but had no response.

A spokesman for Torfaen council said it took advice from the Electoral Commission and are satisfied the motion infringes election law so should not be allowed to proceed.

My comment: They shouldn't need last minute advice from the Electoral Commission if their monitoring officer was doing their job properly. The whole purpose of the monitoring officer is to ensure the council doesn't attempt to break the law in the first place. 

Read the full story from the source South Wales Argus

Hull councillor brands protesters 'retards' on Twitter

A councillor branded people protesting against cuts at a Hull City Council meeting "retards" in a rant on Twitter.

Conservative group leader John Fareham made the comment after Friday's meeting, which saw the council approve a controversial £65m savings plan.

It read: "15 hours in council today very hard hitting day and the usual collection of retards in the public gallery spoiling it for real people."

My comment: I didn't know Hull councillors sat in the public gallery.

Read the full story from the source BBC News Hull

Read all articles about Kingston Upon Hull City Council on this blog

Eight parish councils fail to publish an annual return for the last three years

Parish councils are elected bodies that serve around 15 million people in England and spend about £500 million a year. Now, public spending watchdog the Audit Commission puts the spotlight on the timeliness and quality of their financial reporting.

Parish councils were required to publish their accounting statements and annual governance statement for 2009/10 by 30 September 2010, with the external auditor's certificate of closure and opinion or with a statement that, at the date of publishing, the auditor had not given an opinion and the reasons why.

Auditors issue an unqualified audit opinion where they consider the information contained in the accounts is in accordance with the specified requirements, and relevant legislation and regulatory requirements have been met. Where this is not the case, the auditor will qualify the opinion setting out the reasons why.

Parish councils with no audit opinion for the last three years or more

Brasted Parish Council, Kent, 2005/06 to 2009/10

Fillingham Parish Meeting, Lincolnshire, 2001/02 to 2009/10

Little Ponton and Stroxton Parish Council, Lincolnshire, 2007/08 to 2009/10

Markington with Wallerthwaite Parish Council 1, North Yorkshire, 2007/08 to 2009/10

Martindale Parish Meeting, Cumbria, 2007/08 to 2009/10

Newbiggin Parish Meeting, Cumbria, 2007/08 to 2009/10

South Croxton Parish Council, Leicestershire 2006/07 to 2009/10

Wingrave with Rowsham Parish Council, Buckinghamshire 2007/08 to 2009/10

Read the full story from the source the Audit Commission

Read all articles about Watchdogs or all articles about the Audit Commision on this blog

Saturday, 26 February 2011

Barnet Eye The Movie

Barnet Council out sourced Care Homes to Catalyst and Lost an £8 million claim because Catalyst weren't making enough profit.

They also lost £27.4 million in mismanaged Icelandic Investments.

My comment: Although they like to think they are, public authority management and elected representatives are not savvy enough to do any kind of deal with the private sector. Unfortunately when they cock things up, which is most of the time, it's the services they are supposed to provide and the grass roots workers who suffer. What motivation is there to improve when you don't have to suffer the consequences of your actions?

Get more information by watching the full movie on You Tube   'Barnet Eye The Movie'

Read all articles about Barnet Council (London Borough) on this blog

Exeter Council officer forged parking documents

A motorist has spoken of his disbelief after an Exeter City Council official escaped with a slap on the wrist after admitting forging documents in a parking dispute.

Geoffrey Urwin, 43, who worked at Exeter City Council as a parking support team leader, doctored a map that was presented to a traffic penalty tribunal after motorist Peter Harry appealed against a ticket he had been given.

Urwin, of Oxford Road, St James, Exeter, pleaded guilty to a charge of wilful misconduct at Exeter Crown Court on Friday and was given an absolute discharge by Judge Graham Cottle, the Recorder of Exeter.

My comment: He isn't the first council officer to forge or doctor documents and he won't be the last. Especially since the stupid judge in this case gave him an absolute discharge. A judge who has a zero tolerance for drunks but obviously a very high tolerance for people who are guilty of wilful misconduct in public office.

Read the full story from the source Neil Herron

Read all articles about Exeter City Council on this blog

Friday, 25 February 2011

The war on council non-jobs and waste

As reported in the Daily Telegraph last Friday, the total number of council workers not employed in traditional front-line roles is almost 750,000. We highlighted in our report last year that councils spend £41 million a year on unnecessary jobs such as climate change officers, diversity officers, political advisers, and European officers.

There are also the more famous (or infamous) non-jobs, such as North East Lincolnshire’s “future shape programme manager” and Falkirk’s “cheerleading development officer.”

My comment: They should sack the people who thought up these none-jobs as well as the post holders.

Read the full story from the source The Taxpayer's Alliance

Council changed light bulb in lamp post with no electricity

A council has regularly changed the bulb in a lamp post for the past two years even though it it not connected to the electricity supply.

The street light in Strood Green, near Dorking, Surrey, was knocked down and damaged by a tractor about two years ago and a new one was put up.

But it has not been connected to the electricity supply and so it has never been lit.

However, that's not stopped the council spending public money sending workmen along every now and then to change the bulb.

My comment: The usual public sector 'one hand doesn't know what the other is doing' cock up.

Read the full story from the source The Telegraph

Read all articles about Surrey County Council on this blog

Braintree councillors: We're all right Jack!

Braintree council reject councillor allowance cap.

A “radical” proposal to cap councillors' allowances at £27,000 was rejected despite support from Halstead town councillors.

Comment: Services being cut, staff jobs and wages being cut but those making the decisions refuse to have their pay and perks cut. Residents of the area should remember this at the next local elections and ask the councillor they are thinking of voting for "Did you vote for a cut in councillor allowances?".

Read the full story from the source Halstead Gazette

Refuge loses £34,000 county council cash

COLCHESTER and Tendring Women’s Refuge will have to make cuts to staff and services after it lost 13 per cent of its funding from Essex County Council.

County Hall has reduced its “supporting people” grants, which includes crisis housing, from £30million to £23million.

But Tendring and Colchester has seen a bigger reduction than other parts of the county despite claims it is the most needy.

My comment: Residents of the area should use the FOI Act to enquire how many of the fat cats who made the decision to reduce funding have had their pay and perks cut by a similar amount. 

Read the full story from the source Essex County Standard

Read all articles about Essex County Council on this blog

Taxpayers paid £50m a year for non-existent operations

Taxpayers have been paying private medical clinics more than £50 million a year for operations that were never carried out.

Under controversial minimum payment contracts, 25 independent sector treatment centres (ISTCs) across England were paid a set amount, regardless of how many operations they actually carried out.

Figures obtained under the Freedom of Information Act show that just two centres, Barlborough, near Chesterfield and Derbyshire and Eccleshill, near Bradford, West Yorkshire, were paid £21 million more than the value of the operations they performed, in the five years to April 2010.

My comment: Did they use the MOD procurement model? :) 

Read the full story from the source The Telegraph

Read all articles about the NHS on this blog

Thursday, 24 February 2011

NHS fat cats

During the recession while those in the private sector were taking pay cuts to save their jobs, there has been a pay boom for top NHS bureaucrats.

The chief executive of Central Manchester University Hospitals Trust has had a 48 per cent pay rise since 2008 to 'between £210,000 and £215,000'.

The CEO of the Devon and Exeter NHS Trust is up 30 per cent over the last five years to 'between £165,000 and £170,000'.

The Heart of England NHS Trust CEO is on around £240,000 a year - up 30 per cent since 2006.

While at the East Lancashire Hospitals NHS Trust, over the same period the CEO's pay is up 32 per cent to 'between £165,000 and £170,000'.

As with local councils, there will be those who argue such salaries are a small fraction of the total budget. Yet they are indicative of a wider spread largess - a mentality of spending other people's money with a lack of real accountability.

In 2009/10, the Primary Care Trusts and Strategic Health Authorities increased their management costs by 23 per cent and spent £261 million on management consultants.

The age of extravagance must cease. It is our money and we have to right to know what is being done with it.

My comment: Why do CEOs and senior management deserve so much money, especially since they spend so much on management consultants to tell them how to do their job? Sack them and employ people who can do the job without relying on management consultants. 

Read the full story from the source Mail On-Line

Read all articles about the NHS on this blog

Nelson town councillor admits laundering £90,000 cash

A TOWN councillor is facing jail after admitting £90,000 money laundering charges.

The defendant, who is a former borough councillor, appeared at Burnley Crown Court this week where he pleaded guilty to five counts of disguising, converting, or transferring criminal property, between 2005 and 2007.

However, he said the money laundered related to tax evasion and ‘other criminality’ and that he did not know it represented the proceeds of drug dealing.

Chairman of Nelson Town Council George Adam yesterday said he expected Ansar to stand down with immediate effect.

My comment: It makes you wonder how many councillors around the country are still getting away with it. 

Read the full story from the source This is Lancashire

Councillor caught up in faggots farce

A MIDLAND councillor was left stunned after an innocent email about the Black Country dish faggots was branded offensive by US security software.

Coun Pat Martin, who was Mayor of Dudley last year, was replying to an email from friend John Sanders after they had discussed their favourite childhood foods.

In a previous email, Mr Sanders, aged 76, had mentioned his mother’s faggots, a famous Black Country dish of meatballs in gravy. But when Coun Martin replied, the software used by Dudley Council to filter emails flagged up the word as a “profanity”.

My comment: I am sure the local electorate would prefer it if he spent more time on official business whilst at the office or using council computers and less time going on about his mother's faggots.

Read the full story from the source Birmingham

Read all articles about Dudley Council on this blog.

Mayor calls on Helston councillors to resign

Just resign - that's the call to Helston Town councillors from outgoing Mayor John Boase.

He believes they have lost the confidence of the people they serve through their “bickering” and a major shake up is needed.

Mr Boase called for the whole council to stand down en-masse and hold an election, in a bid to “try and get the confidence back of these councillors.”

My comment: Cliques rule.

Read the full story from the source The Packet

Wednesday, 23 February 2011

Council caught out after loss of memory stick

Cambridgeshire County Council breached the Data Protection Act by losing a memory stick containing sensitive data relating to vulnerable adults, the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) said today.

My comment: You can't trust a public authority with your personal data. Read an earlier example.

Read the full story from the source Information Commissioner

Open council meetings to bloggers, urges Eric Pickles

Eric Pickles and Bob Neill have issued guidance to local authorities, urging them to allow citizen journalists and bloggers to have full access to public council meetings.

As traditional local media declines, new media will be an increasingly important way of holding local councils to account.

My comment: In other words a free antidote to council spin.

Read the full story from the source Conservative Home Local Government

Council boss who got record pay-off in line for another lucrative position

Phil Dolan, who was exposed last week for receiving a pay and redundancy package worth £569,000, was shortlisted for the role of chief executive of Cherwell District Council and South Northamptonshire Council.

The council executive who received a record “early retirement” pay-off is attempting to secure another lucrative position running a local authority, The Daily Telegraph can disclose.

A government source said: “Local residents should be asking whether this money can be clawed back if cuts to services are being threatened.” Last week, the council’s impact assessment into cuts identified services provided by Age Concern and Relate, bereavement support for young people provided by the charity Cruse, and the Community Council – which helps isolated rural residents access services – as threatened by a knock-on effect of cuts.

Two other executives at South Somerset also benefited from the system of payments, meaning that, in one year, the council paid £1.2 million to three people in redundancy.

My comment: Early retirement but not as we know it Jim. I Wonder if there are any jobs going in South Somerset Council because I am sure many people would like to get on their obscene gravy train?

Read the full story from the source The Telegraph

More about his early retirement

Tuesday, 22 February 2011

Somerset council may lose £12m invested in Iceland banks

Nearly £12m which was invested in Icelandic banks could be written off by Somerset County Council.

The authority had nearly £25m deposited in Iceland's banks when they collapsed in October 2008.

The Icelandic bank investments have been called the "thorn in the side" of Somerset County Council by Conservative councillor David Huxtable, the cabinet member for resources.

My comment: Public Authorities were warned about the possibility of the banks collapsing and therefore, took an unnecessary risk leaving taxpayer's money on deposit in dodgy banks. The question local council taxpayers should be asking their council is, have you sacked the prat or prats who ignored the warning signs and decided to leave our money at risk?

Read the full story from the source  BBC News Somerset

Read all articles about Somerset County Council on this blog

Council's £100m Banking on Essex scheme set for axe

The first council-branded bank to be established in more than 30 years is due to be closed less than two years after it was established.

However, the initiative lent just £535,000 and cost £386,000 to establish.

My comment: Typical of public sector involvement in anything. 

Read the full story from the source  The Telegraph

Passport service broke data protection law

The Identity and Passport Service (IPS) broke data protection laws when it lost the passport renewal applications of 21 people, data protection watchdog the Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) has said.

The chief executive of the IPS has promised the ICO that it will ensure that measures are put in place to stop such a loss happening again and that all staff will be made aware of those measures.

The renewal applications contained the personal data not only of the applicants but also of the counter-signatories to those applications. The ICO said, though, that no complaints about damage as a result of the loss had been made.

My comment:  On their website the IPS state "The Identity and Passport Service is committed to compliance with the Act. [Data Protection] We hold a legal duty to do so. We will take every precaution to protect your information." Oh no you don't.

Read the full story from the source Out-Law

Read all articles about the Passport Service and all articles about the ICO on this blog

Monday, 21 February 2011

Devon councillors quaff wine before a crunch meeting to axe £55m of services

Several councillors drank bottles of wine and one was even seen to raise his glass and said 'cheers' to toast angry protesters who had gathered outside.

The councillors then entered the chamber at County Hall in Exeter, Devon, to thrash out massive cuts to public services.

Councillors admitted they drank bottles of red and white wine before the meeting as part of a 'wine club' which regularly sees members meet to drink.

'For people to be drinking before making a decision which affects the lives of so many people simply isn't right. It was extremely insensitive.' 

Councillor Jill Owen, Labour member for Priory and St Leonard's in Exeter, said toasting the crowd with a wine glass was 'tactless'.

My comment: Bottoms up councillors. Get ready for a right rogering at the next election. 

Read the full story from the source Mail On-Line

Read all articles about Devon County Council on this blog

Enfield Labour Councillor faces Crown Court trial over bootleg vodka

A LABOUR councillor faces a crown court trial over allegations his shop was selling bootleg vodka.

Councillor Ali Bakir, 42, was quizzed last November after trading standards officers from Ealing Council discovered what they believe to be fake Glenn's vodka in the West Ealing shop.

Although the matter could have been tried by magistrates Cllr Bakir asked for it to be sent to Crown Court where he will face a trial by jury

My comment:  Hoping the jury are all vodka drinkers?

Read the full story from the source  Enfield Independent

Read all articles about Enfield Council and all articles about Ealing Borough Council on this blog

Oxfordshire County Council Councillor earns £3,600 while on holiday

A COUNCILLOR will receive thousands of pounds in allowances while on a three-month holiday.

Peter Skolar, a member of Oxfordshire County Council, received £1,197 last month despite not being in the country and he will receive the same sum in February and March before returning in April.

He came under fire at a meeting of Henley Town Council on Tuesday, the same day that the county agreed to make £119million cuts over the next four years.

Speaking during public question time, former mayor Ken Arlett, of Elizabeth Road, Henley, asked Cllr Skolar’s fellow county councillor David Nimmo Smith about the absence.

“What is his view on Peter Skolar being away for three-and-a-half months?,” he said. “That represents about £5,000 of taxpayers’ money. Wouldn’t that be better spent on services like the youth club, for example?”

My comment: Yes!

Read the full story from the source Henley Standard

Read all articles about Oxfordshire County Council on this blog 

Gosport Councillors who went on taxpayer funded trip to Spain

Cllr Carter visited the Spanish capital with three other Gosport Borough Council delegates in December last year at a cost of £988.

It spent 7,350 pounds sending 93 people on 23 site visits in the UK and Spain to help decide which firms to hire. Cllr Chegwyn, Liberal Democrat leader in Gosport, said: 'A lot of people are very angry about this'.

'When everyone else is struggling to make ends meet and the council is cutting public services, councillors should not be going off to Spain at taxpayers expense.'

My comment: Tiene el hombre de Bin sido madre. 

Read the full story from the source Mail On-Line

Read all articles about Gosport Borough Council on this blog

Sir John Banham cost Cornwall Council £2,000 a day

Cornwall Council has been accused of "squandering" £2,000 a day on the interim chairman of a new business quango.

Sir John Banham worked for 22 days for the Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) at a cost to the council of £45,000.

The figures, revealed in a Freedom of Information request, were criticised by Liberal Democrat councillor Ann Kerridge.

Sir John's work for the LEP included putting together draft documents on housing, renewable energy and dredging Falmouth harbour.

But his vision was rejected by some business leaders and he is now to have an unpaid "ambassadorial" role instead.

The council said it had got a discount off Sir John's usual £4,000 daily rate.

My comment: Public Authorities know how to spin the news of them wasting council taxpayer's money don't they, 'it could have been worse we should have paid him £88,000'.

Read the full story from the source  BBC News

Read all articles about Cornwall Council on this blog

Sunday, 20 February 2011

ALLOWANCES for Wales’ highest-paid councillors put them in with the top 10% of earners in the country.

Top-paid councillors in 2009/10, the most recent figures available, were Russell Roberts, leader of Rhondda Cynon Taf Council, who received £55,910.04 and Cardiff Council leader Rodney Berman on £52,581.

However at the other end of the scale, Neath Port Talbot councillor Anthony Taylor has not taken any payment since he was elected in 1987, after making a promise to voters.

He said: “People ask me do I regret it, from the bottom of my heart, never. I want to be able to hold my head up high.

“A public representative needs to be at front saying times are hard, we recognise that and are prepared to make sacrifices.”

My comment: At least one honourable councillor in Wales! 

Read the full story from the source Wales On-Line

Councillor who backed mine had free trip

A VETERAN councillor has been accused of a serious conflict of interest after he chaired a meeting which approved plans for a coal mine after accepting an overseas trip worth hundreds of pounds from the developer. Protesters who oppose the Dalfad opencast mine near Cumnock were angered last month when East Ayrshire Council's local planning committee recommended the project for approval despite serious concerns lodged by environmental experts.

But documents on the council's website reveal that Kelly, councillor for Ballochmyle for almost 20 years, accepted a three-day junket to Spain in 2008 from the mining company, with a free hotel room, flights and tickets to the Barcelona v Celtic Champions League football match.

The same year, he also received a Christmas hamper from the firm, which wants to build the mine on a peat bog which environmentalists claim is essential for natural carbon storage. Last February he was the guest of the company at a fundraising dinner in Cumnock Town Hall.

Greta Roberts, secretary of the campaigning Mining and Environment Group Ayrshire, said she believed Kelly should have informed attendees at the meeting of his interest in the firm - and followed his colleagues in stepping aside.

"It is just not right," she said. "He accepted hospitality from the company and is then chairing a planning committee making an important decision about their development. The other councillors realised the fact they have links to Scottish Coal was enough that they should declare an interest - why did he not do the same?"

My comment: Unfortunately this is typical of many councillors today.

Read the full story from the source News Scotsman

Council offers advice event for confused residents

Broxtowe Borough Council is hosting an event to clear up confusion about a new electricity campaign.

The new Greening Campaign, which offers free electricity and encourages residents to install renewable energy sources, has left residents baffled and asking if there is a ‘catch’.

My comment: Show me the free electricity, oh yes, only if you help generate it!

Read the full story from the source Eastwood & Kimberly Advertiser

"Amazingly" said Terena Plowright, Director of The Greening Campaign "it is true, but people need to understand that not all their electricity will be free and there are also some pretty dodgy deals on the market at the moment".

My comment: And some pretty dodgy councils at the moment. 

Baroness of LGA spin urges public sector pensions rethink

The top Tory in local government has urged Chancellor George Osborne to rethink plans to make public sector workers pay more into their pensions.

Lady Eaton and Sir Steve - who is the directly elected mayor of Lewisham in south London - warned that rather than bolstering the local government pension scheme the move could lead to many employees opting out.

In their letter they said if that happened it would call into question the sustainability and viability of the pension scheme.

My comment: Well Local Government pensions are not sustainable nor viable now so what an earth does she expect. The taxpayer to bail them out because they haven't paid enough into their pensions over the last 20 years to make them sustainable and viable?

Read the full story from the source BBC News

Read all articles about the LGA on this blog

Saturday, 19 February 2011

DWP betray an elderly couple

The DWP assured us that the ‘issues raised’ in this troubling case had ‘never come up’ before.

We suggest they get a copy of the evidence Ann Abraham, the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman, gave to the Commons Public Administration Committee last week and turn to page 12, paragraph three.

Mrs Abraham is responding to a question from Robert Halfon — the Hortons’ MP — who wanted to know if she [Abraham] had ever dealt with a similar complaint. She had, and gave the following example.

‘It was somebody being a good citizen, responding to a request to help with a benefit fraud investigation,’ Ann Abraham told the committee.

They got an absolute promise that their witness statement and the information they had given would be anonymous, and then discovered, in the bundle of papers that went to court, there it all was. The consequences for that family were dreadful — again, a campaign of harassment — very difficult, very distressing.

MP Robert Halfon, who described his constituents as ‘utterly decent salt-of-the-earth individuals’.

‘In this case,’ he said, ‘the State has stood idly by for four years while an elderly couple have been systematically persecuted. What is the point of laws at all if only the good and decent suffer because of incompetence and bureaucracy?’

My comment: Another shocking example of how the state can ruin your life just for being a good citizen.

Read the full story from the source  Mail On-Line

Read all articles about the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) on this blog

Reading Councillor Resigns Over Racists Tweet

Local Reading Liberal Democrat Councillor Warren Swaine has resigned following a series of tweets he made about black Member of Parliament.

Councillor Warren was an executive member of the Reading Council for Racial Equality (RCRE) and his resignation is very likely sure to cause some humiliation to the organisation.

My comment: What a twee*t

Read the full story from the source MNI Alive

Hartlepool Council bosses are STILL throwing our money away

Surely the best way to ‘democracy-proof’ local government pay would be to get us, the voters, to approve or reject council executives’ remuneration packages.

Can you imagine the voters of Hartlepool — the same voters who face losing their hospital, bus service, three community centres and a library — rushing out to approve the 7  per cent salary increase just awarded to the town’s chief executive Paul Walker?

His annual pay next year will be £168,000 — £25,000 more than the Prime Minister, and all to run a medium-sized town in the north of England.

The pay rise is an unbelievable cheek. Last month Hartlepool’s elected mayor Stuart Drummond — who is himself on a salary of well over £50,000 — wrote to the Government to protest about the cut in Hartlepool’s grant.

And yet we now learn that, while the cuts will be affecting services desperately needed by the poor, there is apparently enough money in the kitty to stuff the pockets of the council’s top brass.

My comment: Turkeys don't vote for Christmas and fat cats don't vote to forego a pay rise.

Read the full story from the source Mail On-Line

Read all articles about Hartlepool Borough Council on this blog

Chief executive's early retirement aged just 54

Phil Dolan, the former chief executive, was paid a total £569,000 during the 2009-10 financial year. Before joining South Somerset District Council in 2004, he worked at Blaby District Council.

He was 54 when he took early retirement in March last year following the restructuring of the district council, when some management posts were merged with neighbouring East Devon District Council. He is now listed as working for a consultancy called E-mpirical, which is based in Reading. The company lists work for Reading Borough Council, NHS West Midlands, Lancashire Social Services, and Slough Borough Council among its clients.

My comment: This is not retirement, it's fat cat musical chairs.

Read the full story from the source The Telegraph

Friday, 18 February 2011

Tameside Council Spend £5,000 on training staff how to walk

Tameside Council has forked out £4,995 on training and leaflets for staff and councillors giving them guidance and tips on how to walk as part of the council’s wellbeing strategy. The scheme was carried out by a private company named Urbanwalks which also carries out work for other public sector organisations. For £4,935, Urbanwalks carried out a risk assessment along with the mapping of six local walking routes for staff and 5,500 leaflets to be printed for each member of staff.

Tameside Council states that the funding came from cash for the council’s ‘Older People’s Project.’ This is a disgrace as the money should have gone on providing care for the elderly, not on some self-serving pet project for staff wellbeing.

My comment: First the police wasting money on training officers how to ride a bike and now Tameside Council training staff how to walk.  Tameside even have the audacity to rob from their elderly residents to do it. And lie in response to an FOI request about who the training was for.

Read the full story from the source Taxpayer's Alliance

Read all articles about Tameside Metropolitan Borough Council on this blog

''Councils' crazy non-jobs need to go''

The Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) is waging a 'war' on "crazy non-jobs" that have been created by local authorities.

Since the previous government came to power in 1997, the number of council employees not in front-line positions has grown to 741,702 and it's time to do something about it, especially with councils cutting essential services to save money, said local government minister Bob Neill. However, many of these non front-line positions are in education, culture, heritage, social services, libraries, planning, recreation, trading standards and environmental health.

My comment: Many councils also support these "crazy none-jobs" with crazy money.

Read the full story from the source Public Service

North Tyneside Council 'wasted' £22k on hunt for new CEO

North Tyneside Council splashed the cash on hiring a recruitment consultant to find a new boss but then failed to appoint one.

As reported by the Chronicle last week, the council received more than 20 applications for the post but decided none were suitable.

Payments to the recruitment consultant, travel and accommodation costs, fees for staff time and advertising came to £22,037.44 before VAT.

My comment: And the waste goes on! 

Read the full story from the source Chronicle Live

Councils spend money to tell us they must save money

BARMY council bosses are spending thousands of pounds telling the public that services will be slashed as Britain battles a trillion-pound debt.

Critics accuse them of "idiotic" and out-of-control profligacy.

Here, on Day Three of our council waste series, we reveal just some of the local authorities who are wasting our money by telling us about the cuts.

My comment: Public authority logic, waste money telling us they need to save money. 

Read the full story from the source The Sun

War on thousands of local borough council 'non-jobs'

Almost three million people are employed by local borough councils after an “explosion” in “crazy non-jobs”.

“Crazy non-jobs like cheerleading development officers and press officers tasked with spinning propaganda on bin collections provide no value to the public.

My comment: This was part of the government's (when Labour were in office) job creation scheme to keep unemployment low.

Read the full stroy from the source The Telegraph

Councils failed to collect £530m in council tax in 2009-10

Cash-strapped local authorities in England, Scotland and Wales failed to collect £530m in council tax in 2009-10, a BBC investigation has found.

Separate figures obtained by the BBC also show a backlog of about  

£2.5bn in unpaid council tax between 1993 and 2010.

But Baroness Margaret Eaton, chairman of the Local Government Association [Spin Factory] (LGA), which represents local authorities in England and Wales, says councils have an excellent record. 

My comment: See the amendment in blue above. 

Read the full story from the source  BBC News

Read all articles about the LGA on this blog

Thursday, 17 February 2011

Surrey Council chief's salary among highest in the country

THE six-figure salary of Surrey’s supremo has been defended at a time when tough cuts are being imposed on residents.

David McNulty, the county council’s chief executive, will earn the equivalent of £213,040 this year despite services across Surrey being pinched.

The salary is £63,000 more than Prime Minister David Cameron and almost £80,000 more than the average council chief executive.

Cllr Povey said: "He is a very high level individual and perhaps we achieve millions in efficiency savings because of him."

My comment: So he's worth the money because he will cut services and sack other officers to "perhaps" save some money?

Read the full story from the source Get Surrey

Read all articles about Surrey County Council on this blog

Leading Lancashire Tory councillor rejects allowances cut

A LEADING councillor has rejected a cut in his allowances, saying: “I still have to live”.

Peter Britcliffe was paid more than £43,000 last year for his roles on Hyndburn Borough Council, Lancashire County Council and Lancashire Fire Authority.

Preston councillor Mark Jewell accidentally copied all 84 county councillors into an email meant for his Liberal Democrat colleagues.

In it, he proposed a 3.6per cent cut in the allowances paid to county councillors, writing: “This is the average amount by which budgets are being reduced across the patch.

Coun Britcliffe, the leader of Hyndburn Borough Council, who replied: “Cant see the point in symbolic gestures ... I still have to live”.

Asked about the comment yesterday, Coun Britcliffe said “I work very hard as a politician full-time. We are making a gesture by not taking an increase in our allowances.”

My comment: So the coalition slogan "We are all in this together" needs to be changed to "We are all in this except Councillor Britcliffe". Citizens of Lancashire remember this when the next election comes around. 

Read the full story from the source Lancashire Telegraph (Hyndburn)

Read all articles about Lancashire County Council on this blog

Fantasy world of local government is about to come crashing down

Haringey, rated the worst council in London by the Audit Commission. The local Pravda, Haringey People, this month warns that services will be “slashed”, and council leader Cllr Kober has said: “The government cuts are a hammer blow to the people of Haringey, particularly when we are already one of the most deprived boroughs in the country.” And yet the council’s “CEO”, Kevin Crompton, is on £189,440 a year, an increase of £6,855 from his predecessor, and not only more than the PM but not that far off from the President of the United States, who takes home £245,000. Bear in mind that the median wage in Haringey is £19,800.

And like many councils up and down the country, they have spent the last few years in a fantasy world of extravagant spending, in Haringey’s case on its high salaries, a £2 million website and a £1 million-a-year PR team that employs 28 people. Councils are protected by the absurdity of the local government system, in which three quarters of revenue comes from central government, and where most people vote tribally for political parties. This makes many councils one-party states.

My comment: What reason is there for public authorities to have PR team except to spin the truth and hide the fact they are doing a bad job. Is there a correlation? The worse the authority the larger their spin factory.

Read the full story from the source The Telegraph

Read all articles about Haringey Council LB, all articles about Watchdogs or all articles about the Audit Commision on this blog

Fed up with fat-cat public sector salaries?

Fed up with fat-cat public sector salaries? Make local councils self-financing.

The trouble is that councils have little incentive to reduce their spending when three quarters of their revenue comes from Whitehall. If they cut their costs by 20 per cent, it translates into only a five per cent reduction in council tax. Those which have been the most profliagate are rewarded: the more deprivation their policies create, the more money they attract in the form of welfare payments. Some Labour councils employ staff whose sole task is to encourage local people to claim benefits. Conversely, those which have economised find that, when a general reduction of the block grant is applied, they have less room for manoeuvre than the wastrels.

The solution? Make local authorities largely self-financing, ideally by replacing VAT with a Local Sales Tax, whose rate would be set at county or metropolitan level. Because everyone would pay it (to the extent that we all buy things), everyone would have an interest in reducing costs. And competing tax jurisdictions would give Britain something it had never known before: downward pressure on rates.

My comment: I would vote for that. 

Read the full story from the source The Telegraph

Eight petitions against Scottish Public Services Ombudsman closed in minutes

Holyrood, MSMPS & their queasy feelings about regulation reform : Eight petitions against Scottish Public Services Ombudsman closed in minutes.

Scottish Parliament’s Local Government Committee closed eight petitions asking for an independent review of the SPSO. As readers will now be well aware, EIGHT PUBLIC PETITIONS calling for an independent review of the Scottish Public Services Ombudsman (SPSO) which received the backing of the Scottish Government’s Housing Minister Alex Neil in his capacity as a constituency MSP to the petitioners were closed in under three minutes by the Scottish Parliament’s Local Government & Communities Committee on Wednesday of last week.

My comment: So what purpose do petitions serve in Scotland? Fodder to help justify the jobs and expenses of those on the Local Government & Communities Committee? Eight petitions against Scottish Public Services Ombudsman closed in 3 minutes, I bet their coffee breaks or a toilet breaks took longer! 

Read the full story from the source A Diary of Injustice in Scotland

Wednesday, 16 February 2011

Trespassing laws are to be used to evict elderly patients

Pensioners reluctant to go home – often because they are too frail or confused to cope on their own – will be given 48 hours to leave. If they refuse, NHS trusts will seek a court order for possession of their bed.

Aintree University Foundation Trust and Southport and Ormskirk Hospital Trust, both on Merseyside, are seeking to employ anti-trespass powers more commonly used to ban yobs from shopping centres.

Senior consultants blamed councils for not organising services such as carers to enable the elderly to move back into their own homes safely.

A spokesman for Sefton Primary Care Trust, which has drawn up the plans with the two Merseyside hospitals, said legal action was a last resort.

My comment: That's what they say now but when the dust settles it will become the norm.

Read the full story from the source Mail On-Line 

The councillor who claims £118,000 in allowances

The best-paid councillor in the country rakes in £118,000 a year in allowances, it was revealed yesterday.

And Steve O’Connell – whose six-figure pay is funded by taxpayers through three public bodies – said: ‘I’m worth it.’

The Daily Mail revealed yesterday that local councillors’ allowances are costing taxpayers more than £200million a year. 

My comment: Stop the gravy train I want to get on!

Mr O’Connell, a former bank worker who is now a councillor in Croydon, said the scale of his allowances was a matter for the voters.

My comment: Bet the voters didn't even know how much he was trousering until now. I suggest the electorate vote him out at the earliest opportunity. 

Local Government Minister Grant Shapps said the idea of ‘professionalised councillors’ wasn’t what the public wanted. ‘We’re going to blow the door open, make sure the public knows exactly what’s going on,’ he said.

My comment: I think you need to blow the bloody doors off! 

Read the full story from the source Daily Mail On-Line 

Read all articles about Croydon Council LB on this blog

Tuesday, 15 February 2011

Damning NHS report must be the last

ONCE again we [Oxford Mail] are reporting failures at our main hospitals.

Surely the NHS of the 21st century can do better, show more caring, compassion and pride in its work.

The case highlighted by ombudsman Ann Abraham is, frankly, shocking.

My comment: Yes it is but it also highlights the real problem which isn't the problem reported by the Oxford Mail, for that is merely a symptom. Why should any public authority improve if the worst thing that happens is that an Ombudsman, or other Watchdog, produces a report? We need Watchdogs with the ability to kick the arses of public authority CEOs. Not produce reports that are forgotten about within weeks after the payment of a pathetic amount of compensation. Remember Victoria Climbie only to be followed a few years later by Baby P? Remember the NHS scandals of the past? 

Read the full story from the source Oxford Mail

Read all articles about the NHS on this blog

Mum wins discrimination battle against Enfield Council

A MOTHER whose son who was kicked out primary school because his teachers refused to accept he had a learning disability has said she has lost all faith in the system.

She said: "I was threatened by a representative from Enfield Council's behaviour support service that if I didn't agree for Zak to be moved to a school of their choice, they would have the power to put him there with or without my permission. He said that if I didn't cooperate the local authority would take me to court for non-attendance.

Mrs Marquand then took her case to the Special Educational Needs Tribunal (SENDIST) who ruled their son had been unfairly discriminated against.

They criticised the school for placing him at a "serious disadvantage" by depriving him of his education and by failing to have him assessed and provided with an official statement of his disability.

My comment: Good job she didn't use the discredited Local Government Ombudsman because they would more than likely have backed Enfield. 

Read the full story from the source Enfield Independent

Read all articles about Enfield Council on this blog

Doing your civic duty never paid so well

Thousands of local councillors have seen their allowances soar in the past five years, astonishing figures reveal.

The town hall payouts have risen by up to 150 per cent to a total cost of more than £200million a year.

The statistics will intensify anger over spending cuts at local authorities. Many warn that they are being forced to close libraries, swimming pools and leisure centres to save money.

According to the most recent figures, extracted from local authority accounts, a substantial number of council leaders are paid more than £50,000 – and it is no longer unusual for the average councillor’s allowance to total more than £20,000.

The highest single increase over the past five years was at Rochford council in Essex, where allowances increased by 158 per cent – almost ten times the rate of inflation over the same period.

My comment:  A few years ago most people became councillors to improve their local area now many appear to become councillors to get their snouts in the pubic trough and then vote for even more. Oink! Oink!

Read the full story from the source  Daily Mail On-Line

Government finalises plans to curb council 'Pravdas'

Communities secretary Eric Pickles appears to have finalised his plans to curb "Pravda-style" council newspapers with local authorities held to three publications a year.

My comment: Not before time. Council newspapers are mostly spin with very little substance.

Read the full stry from the source Print Week

CEO of Eden District Council was once named a ‘fat cat’.

The man appointed as temporary chief executive of Eden District Council was once named in a Tax Payer’s Alliance ‘fat cat’ list.

Robin Hooper was given a £233,081 package following his exit from Shrewsbury and Atcham Borough Council plus £10,000 compensation after details of his settlement were made public.

On Thursday night district councillors agreed to pay recruitment agency Gatenby Sanderson £770 a day for Mr Hooper’s services.

The district council says it is being forced to save between £1.1 million and £1.5m over the next four years.

My comment: Paying the equivalent of £165,000+ a year for an agency CEO is not a good start! Particularly since he was only on £87,000 for doing the same job at Shrewsbury and Atcham.

Read the full story from the source News & Star

Read all articles about Eden District Council on this blog

Monday, 14 February 2011

Pickles delivers attack on top pay

Communities secretary Eric Pickles has delivered another trenchant criticism of the pay of chief executives, calling for them to ‘show leadership and personal commitment to protecting front line services’, by taking a pay cut.

SPIN ALERT! Whilst Richard Kemp, vice-chairman of the Local Government Association, said running local authorities was ‘significantly more complicated than running a private company’, citing the example of Baby P and attracting business as two polar examples of council working.Spin ale

My comment: Baby P is an example of senior officers not being up to the job even though they are paid much more that they are worth. Private companies have to generate money they can't rely on the taxpayer to bail them out and fund fat cat salaries. 

MAJOR SPIN ALERT! He said: ‘Most council executives are worth what they are paid.’

My comment: Oh no they're not!

Read the full story from the biased source Local Gov 

Fat Cat Council chiefs paid more than PM

Almost half of local authority chief executives were paid more than £150,000 last year - more than the Prime Minister, according to research.

A study of 300 councils in England and Wales showed that pay ranged from £62,000 in West Somerset to almost £300,000 in the London Borough of Wandsworth.

The highest paid female chief executive last year was at Essex County Council, earning £237,000, said the report by Incomes Data Services (IDS).

County council chief executives in the South East were the highest paid, with average earnings of £204,000, compared with £159,000 in the South West, the study showed.

My comment: They should cut fat cat wages before front line services.

Read the full story from the source Press Association

Scots police forces criticised for 999 response times

Two Scottish police forces have been criticised over their response to some 999 calls.

The Police Complaints Commissioner for Scotland said both Lothian and Borders and Strathclyde forces had questions to answer over the issue.

In one instance, Lothian and Borders Police failed to respond to 10 emergency calls from takeaway staff being attacked by 20 armed youths.

My comment: They would have arrived within minutes if a yob had been hurt in the attack and complained.

Read the full story from the source BBC News Scotland

Read all articles about the Police on this blog

Saturday, 12 February 2011

More Tales from the Wales Audit Office

The continuing revelations into the champagne lifestyle of those chosen to protect public money in Wales are reported in today's Western Mail . It concerns (yet again) the ex Chief Operating Officer of the Wales Audit Office, Anthony Snow who decided that the best form of transport to take him to a conference on 'how to save public money' was a £464 chauffeur-driven Mercedes.

My comment: If he sends me a chauffeur-driven Mercedes I will visit his office and tell him what I think.

Read the full story from the source Carmarthenshire Planning Problems

Read all articles about the Wales Audit Office on this blog

Barnet Council eroding democracy

A LABOUR politician has accused the Tories of "eroding democracy" with proposals to limit speakers in council debates.

Councillor Alison Moore, leader of the Labour group, said it was the latest in a series of measures introduced by the Conservative administration.

She said: “The Barnet Tories have been eroding local democracy year by year – they have reduced the ability of residents to speak at planning committees, reduced the ability of members of the public to put questions down at any committee, and even tried to stop elected councillors on committees from asking questions by saying the subject is not on the agenda.

My comment: Everyone should have the right to speak at, or put questions to, a council committee.

Read the full story from the source (Barnet) Times

Friday, 11 February 2011

Conwy County Borough Council wins none job of the week

This week’s non-job. The accolade goes to Conwy County Borough Council in Wales, who are looking for a European Project Support Officer.

Job description: Age Friendly Communities” is a 3 years INTERREG project to develop intergenerational strategies on both local and transnational levels and to test pilot activities which encourage cohesion & social inclusion, positive image & cultural heritage, healthy lifestyles & life-long learning. You will be responsible for supporting project management tasks and implementing, promoting and evaluating the project’s pilot schemes in Conwy.Applicants should be educated to National Diploma Level with strong administrative, financial, communication, IT and organisational skills. You should be motivated, flexible, and be able to motivate others, work under pressure to tight deadlines. Ability to travel nationally and internationally is required. The ability to communicate through the medium of Welsh is desirable.

There is going to be national and international travel involved with this non-job. Is the post-holder going to make regular visits to Brussels to talk about cohesion and healthy lifestyle with other European Project Support Officers from around the EU? Are they going to make visits to Cardiff to lobby the Welsh Assembly Government?

My comment: "INTERREG project to develop intergenerational strategies on both local and transnational levels and to test pilot activities which encourage cohesion & social inclusion, positive image & cultural heritage, healthy lifestyles & life-long learning." Or put simply a load of over paid idiots jetting abroad to sit around a table talking bollocks at the taxpayer's expence.

Read the full story from the source Taxpayer's Alliance

Read all articles about Conwy Council on this blog

Newcastle City Council gamble £5 million on property speculation

Newcastle City Council, after just announcing nearly 700 jobs cuts, has obviously decided that the solution to their financial difficulties is… property speculation!

The Council has just bought a six-storey building in the city centre for £5 million, claiming it will make a profit by renting out office space.

The last time I looked, commercial property agents in Newcastle (ie people who are actually experts on commercial property) had acres of empty office space on their books which they’re struggling to give away.

More than 650 jobs have been axed at the authority as Council bosses get to grips with £45 million of cuts,  and council staff have been hit with a two-year Government-imposed pay freeze. However, this hasn’t stopped the caring and sensitive Newcastle City Council awarding their Chief Executive Barry Rowland a “performance-related” pay rise of almost £5,000 extra, on top of his existing £160,500 a year salary.

My comment: Speculating with taxpayer's money should be against the law. Remember the Icelandic Bank Scandal!

Read the full story from the source Taxpayer's Alliance

Who's policing the police's criminal spending?

Criminal spending Number 1: Northumbria Police Authority have taken insensitivity to a whole new level by installing a £50,000 public artwork outside their spanking new headquarters – on the same day they told staff that 450 jobs are being axed.

The steel and glass sculpture was winched into place last week just as support staff were being told that their jobs were at risk.

The artwork, which is described as “looking like a ball-bearing inside a hula hoop”, is part of the new £27 million Northumbria Police headquarters and, according to the Mail on Sunday, the Police Authority chair, Mick Henry, believes the sculpture will give pleasure to the local community.

My comment: What's a load of balls!

Read the full story from the source Taxpayer's Alliance

Criminal spending Number 2: Police forces across the country have spent thousands of pounds worth of taxpayers’ cash to produce an extensive manual on how to ride a bike.

It’s important that police officers are well prepared for crime fighting but this guide is a silly waste of time and money. There’s advice to wear lip balm, on how to avoid a sore bottom and “DO NOT PUT YOUR FEET DOWN TO SLOW DOWN YOUR CYCLE.”

Daily Telegraph asked “are police really that stupid?” and also said “No wonder the police don’t have the time to catch criminals any more: they’re too busy reading the manual.”

My comment: The person who thought this up should have a sore bottom through having their arse kicked.

Read the full story from the source Taxpayer's Alliance

My comment: Wasting public money like this should be an arrestable  offence!

Pickles presses on with curbs on council papers

Communities secretary Eric Pickles is pushing forward with plans to curb town hall 'pravdas', with a four-a-year limit on publications.

He has published a revised Code of Recommended Practice on Local Authority Publicity following a consultation period, which sees his main proposals on council newspapers remain intact.

The new rules are expected to come into force in April and will also prevent councils from hiring lobbyists and prevent council advertising from being politicised.

Mr Pickles said the existing rules had been 'too weak for too long' and had left many local newspapers 'looking over the abyss'.

LGA chairman Baroness Margaret Eaton said: "If the Department for Communities and Local Government was truly committed to localism it would not be introducing draconian rules dictating to councils how often they are allowed to share information with residents.

My comment: What Baroness Eaton fails to mention is that councils don't just use their in house newspapers to share information with residents they also use them for propaganda and spin. And as chair of the LGA, the collective propaganda/spin machine for local government, she must know that. Taxpayers money should not be used by local government to lobby the government and neither should it be used to spin the news or as a conduit for propaganda.

Read the full story from the source Hold the Front Page

City Hall chief makes himself redundant with £300k pay-off

Boris Johnson's top civil servant is set for a pay-off costing taxpayers almost £300,000 after suggesting that his job should be scrapped.

One City Hall source said: "It's an absolute scandal. In these supposedly austere times, I just think it's absolutely unbelievable."

Mr Boland joined City Hall in 2009 on a salary of £183,000; the Mayor currently earns £145,350.

My comments: What's the difference between top public servants and bankers? Nothing!

Read the full story form the source London Evening Standard

Thursday, 10 February 2011

MPs' expenses: Eric Illsley jailed for 12 months

Judge tells former Labour MP for Barnsley Central his false accounting of £14,500 breached public trust in MPs.

The judge said Illsley's crimes were less serious than those of fellow shamed ex-Labour MP David Chaytor, who was jailed for 18 months last month but he bore a small but significant part of the responsibility for the public's loss of trust in MPs.

My comment: No doubt other MPs saying "there for the grace of God!"

Read the full story from the source

Read all articles about MPs on this blog

Former MP Jim Devine guilty over expenses

Ex-Labour MP Jim Devine has been found guilty on two counts of making dishonest claims on his expenses. Sentencing is in four weeks.

He argued the money claimed for stationery had actually been used to cover staffing costs, and he had been advised by another Labour MP and expenses officials at the Commons Fees Office that that was allowed.

My comment: That's what you get when you listen to others regarding your fraudulent claims for expenses.

Read the full story from the source BBC News Politics

Read all articles about MPs on this blog

Wednesday, 9 February 2011

First Super Council

London's going to be the first place in the country to have a Super-Council. Three Tory-run authorities will share services, aiming to save 35 million pounds a year.

My comment: Super council = super failings, super incompetence, super wrongdoings and super fat cats in control. Also what happens if another political party gains control of one of the councils party to the super council? A super divorce?

Read the full story from the source  ITV London tonight (and watch the video)

Follow up

Fears over merger plans for London councils' services

Three Conservative councils claim they will save £35m a year by merging departments and sharing services.

Westminster, Kensington and Chelsea and Hammersmith and Fulham say the plan will affect mainly town hall managers while limiting cuts that will affect the public.

But opponents say services will inevitably suffer from the merger.

My comment: Hammersmith and Fulham are already planning to sell off the family silver.

Watch the video from the source BBC News London

Wirral councillors show we aren't in it together

IN response to my recent challenge in The Globe for councillors to reduce payments to themselves by 25 per cent, thus saving more than £200,000 a year and enabling them to prove that "we are all in it together", the council leader has announced instead a derisory cut of just five per cent.

That's less than £10 a week off the standard attendance allowance for each councillor. 

Meanwhile, 1,200 council jobs are going, just to put the whole thing into perspective.

Unfortunately, none of our 66 elected representatives seem prepared to enter into a genuine debate about just how much they think they are worth, engaging instead in the usual gesture politics as illustrated by their massive 5% personal sacrifice.

My comment: One rule for them and one for others. Where have we heard that before?  Oh yes, from MPs during the MPs expense scandal.

Read the full story from the source Wirral Globe

Read all articles about Wirral Council on this blog

Tuesday, 8 February 2011

Scottish Ombudsman faces scrutiny calls

Campaigners are calling on MSPs to reject the reappointment of the man in charge of investigating complaints into public services.

A group called Integrity4Scotland wants to delay confirmation of Scottish Public Services Ombudsman Jim Martin’s position until a review is carried out into cases which it claims were not properly scrutinised.

MSPs will consider the reappointment on Thursday – the day after a Holyrood committee is due to discuss eight petitions all calling for an independent review of the ombudsman’s office to make it “more accountable”.

My comment: All Public Service Ombudsmen should be open to public scrutiny every year. In addition their work should be independently audited.

Read the full story from the source

Winchester City Council: The tail wags the dog

A COUNCIL meeting ended in controversy after the Conservative group leader stormed out.

Cllr George Beckett of Winchester City Council had wanted to set up a working group to scrutinise planning policies in rural areas, but was told by officers it couldn’t happen.

Eloise Appleby, head of cultural services, said working groups cannot run concurrently because of officer time constraints and that one already existed for the particular committee.

Cllr Beckett said: “This is just another victory for the officers. I’m sorry chair, but I am too angry to continue.” 

My comment: Proof of what I always thought. It's the none elected council officers who control a council not our elected representatives. 

Read the full story from the source Southern Daily Echo

Transparency extends to Council officer pay

A second radical phase in the Government's drive for greater openness will shine the torch of transparency on Town Hall middle management across the country, Local Government Secretary Eric Pickles will announce today.

In the new push for transparency, councils will be now be asked to publish an organisational chart including the names and responsibilities of staff paid over £58,200 - equivalent to the lowest Senior Civil Service pay band. Ministers believe this will give the public the full picture of a council's management composition.

My comment: At last, it's about time we knew what the responsibilities are of some of the none job occupants, how much they were paid and how many each council employed. 

 Read the full story from the source conservativehome Local government

Monday, 7 February 2011

Nottingham could be only council not to release spending data

The council's deputy leader Graham Chapman said:
"We have said that we will publish accounts over £500 if it becomes a legal requirement to do so. We are happy for information to be transparently available for public scrutiny but feel that the time and money needed to implement this change is wasteful and a distraction at a time when we are coping with £60million of cuts in government funding. The government talks about localism but as this issue shows, it seems intent on interfering at every opportunity."

My Comment: What are you hiding Mr Chapman?

Read the full story from the source BBC Open Secrets

Read all articles about Nottingham City Council on this blog

Lambeth Council: Milking the motorist

Clapham Park Road can be named as the biggest "cash cow" for parking tickets in the capital.

In a stretch of road measuring less than 500 yards, wardens raked in almost £1 million in parking and traffic fines last year - £300,000 more than its nearest London rival.

Coffers at Lambeth council were swelled by £2,500 a day through the activities of civil enforcement officers and two CCTV cameras patrolling bus lanes in Clapham Park Road.

The disclosure threatens to reignite the debate over town halls' use of parking fines as a stealth tax - in breach of Whitehall guidelines - to generate cash at a time of budget cuts.

My Comment: I think the appropriate term for what Lambeth Council are doing would be Highway Robbery.

Read the full story from the source Neil Herron

Read all articles about Lambeth Council  on this blog

Bristol Council: Tax payers' money topping up councillors' pensions

COUNCIL tax payers' money is being used to top up the pensions of nearly 90 councillors in the Bristol area.

The payments, which amount to a total of more than £200,000 a year, have been condemned by a retired local government worker who said the pension scheme should not be available to councillors.

My comment: I remember the days when councillors weren't paid let alone got a pension. Now it looks like most of them are just in it for the money, perks and pensions!

Read the full story from the source This is Bristol

Woking Borough Council's secret plans kept from their leader

From a blog by Will Forster.

The local Lib Dems and I recently brought to light a shocking plan by a company owned by Conservative run Woking Borough Council to buy Rydens Way for housing development.

Councillor Richard Wilson, Woking’s Head of Housing and Councillor Simon Bellord - the Councillor for Mayford and Sutton Green knew about these plans from June, but didn’t tell anyone. I want to know why. Was it they needed to sign the deal first, before common sense stopped the deal? Do they not trust their fellow Conservative Councillors? Or did they not think they should ask about spending millions of pounds of taxpayers money on a controversial development?  

Also -how can the Leader of the Council be allowed to continue to run an organisation, when he didn’t notice that over £9 million had been spent under his nose?

[My comment: Obviously the leader was not part of the cabal.]

Read the full story from the blogger Will Forster

Read all articles about Woking Borough Council on this blog

Sunday, 6 February 2011

Calling all tourists! Visit Rochdale because we have a nice town hall

A local council has drawn fire for investing £65,000 for its re-branding project designed to ‘drive tourism’.

Rochdale council had employed Thinkingplace, a marketing firm based in Yorkshire. The £65,000 invoice from the firm was published earlier in the week in the Manchester Evening News as part of its policy to publish all town hall payments of more than £500.

One of the town’s elements it wishes to highlight is the building where the council and town hall are based.

Meanwhile, the council’s leader Colin Lambert has called the spending of the Liberal Democrat-led council before him ‘frustrating’.

My comment: Book me a ticket to Rochdale town hall. Not to look at the building but to laugh at the people who thought this one up. A Lancashire council using a Yorkshire marketing firm is just adding insult to injury.

Read the full story from the source Carrentals

Read all articles about Rochdale Borough Council on this blog

County council make threat to East Lancashire

THE leader of Lancashire County Council has threatened to reduce cooperation with East Lancashire authorities in a row over regeneration.

County council leader Geoff Driver favours a Lancashire-wide LEP and he has threatened to quit two East Lancashire regeneration bodies if the area’s six councils press ahead with plans for a Pennine Lancashire organisation.

My comment: So if the county council leader doesn't get what he wants he threatens to take his ball back? He needs to grow up, no wonder councils are in such a mess when leaders use school playground posturing.

Read the full story from the source Lancashire Telegraph

Read all articles about Lancashire County Council on this blog

Edinburgh Council says 'do it yourself'

SCOTS are being urged to adopt a do-it-yourself approach to some services currently provided by councils ahead of massive budget cuts to be implemented this week.

Edinburgh City Council's chief executive Sue Bruce suggests the council should "explore all options" in pulling back from some of its work when local people show they can provide it voluntarily.

In the face of declining budgets and rising costs and to avoid compulsory redundancies among council workforces, local government managers are calling for a culture change whereby able communities provide services that the state can no longer afford to manage. These include meals-on-wheels for elderly residents, driving patients to medical appointments and snow-clearing of public spaces.

My comment: Less front line staff should mean less over paid senior officers but I doubt any of those will lose their jobs.

Read the full story from the source News Scotsman

Read all articles about Edinburgh City Council on this blog

Southampton Council may have breached the Data Protection Act

COUNCIL chiefs in Southampton have been accused of unlawfully trawling through staff payroll records to undermine union opposition to looming pay cuts.

The council admitted using its payroll to find out the number of union subscriptions deducted from staff wages.

Union leaders are now considering a complaint over a possible breach of the Data Protection Act.

A spokesman for the ICO said: “Local authorities who hold and process information about their clients, employees or suppliers, are legally obliged to protect that information. Trade union membership would be considered to be sensitive personal information, and so any use of this type of information must be fully justified"

[My comment: I bet they are reluctant to do something similar with senior officers and SOLACE!]

Read the full story from the source Southern Daily Echo

Read all articles about Southampton City Council and all articles about the ICO on this blog

Surrey County Council's library proposals criticised

A local councillor has expressed concern at plans by Surrey County Council to overhaul library services.

Councillor David Munro, of Waverley Borough Council, urged a "full, effective and transparent consultation" before decisions were made.

Mr Munro said he was concerned that the fate of Bramley library, in his borough, along with 10 others, was "a done deal" and described receiving the news as "a bolt from the blue".

[My comment: There has been talk of closing libraries and reducing front line services across the country, whilst at the same time council senior officer's pay has been increasing substantially. Will we ever reach the point where CEOs are paid £1million plus but have nothing left to manage? The writing is on the wall.] 

Read the full story from the source: BBC News (Surrey)

Read all articles about Surrey County Council on this blog

More from the council which wanted to charge for FOI

Remember the case of Cheshire West and Chester Council, the authority which sent out a press release about its plans to charge for FOI requests?

Cheshire West and Chester Council has come up with another way of silencing those who like to ask awkward questions: It made someone who is either on its payroll or no longer on its payroll sign an agreement not to submit FOI requests or Data Protection Act requests.

[My comment: Cheshire West and Chester Council prefer it if people accepted council spin rather than look for the truth. Hence their fear of whistle blowers, complainants and the Freedom of Information Act.]

Read the full story from the source: David Higgerson

Read all articles about Cheshire West & Chester Council on this blog and more articles about them on my dedicated CWaC Council blog

Suffolk Council CEO excessive pay (£218,000)

The online form which demanded that Andrea Hill’s income be cut from its current level of £218,000 was removed after it was deemed to be “inappropriate”.

The Suffolk County Council chief executive has faced sustained criticism since her salary was disclosed in 2008.

Eric Whitfield, Suffolk County Council's monitoring officer, said it was beyond the council’s power to change the chief executive’s income. 

[My comment: "What a moron,  who set her pay level in the first place and who agrees any increase?" Let me guess, Suffolk County Council.

Read the full story from the source: The Telegraph

Read all articles about Suffolk County Council on this blog 

Bath Council none achievements

You can tell election time is looming in Bath from the amount of councillors posing for photographs.

[My comment: "Most councillors would attend the opening of an envelope if it would get their picture in a local newspaper."]

Two councillors can be seen posing determinedly outside a restaurant opposite the Roman Baths. ‘Work has started on a new family-friendly cafĂ© and restaurant for the Roman Baths,’ says the Bath Chronicle. But excuse me, wasn’t this already a busy restaurant called ‘Binks’ crowded with relaxed families sitting inside and outside?

Should the council really be spending money out of council reserves on compensating the current lease-holder for his £500,000 lease and covering his legal fees? 

Read the full story from the source: Taxpayer's Alliance

Wokingham Council pays five chief officers more than £100,000.

The salaries of top council officers are on public display.

Susan Law runs Wokingham Borough Council and enjoys a salary of £157,479 – the highest in Berkshire.

Wokingham pays five chief officers more than £100,000.

[My comment: Wow and why!] 
Read the full story from the source: Getreading

Read all articles about Wokingham Borough Council on this blog

Saturday, 5 February 2011

Camden Council fined £137k

Camden Council was ordered to pay out £137,000 after a toddler was crushed to death when a brick wall collapsed on him.

Two-year-old Saurav Ghai was killed in 2007, when the 2,050lb wall fell on to the pavement in 75mph winds.

At Southwark crown court, Judge Deborah Taylor branded the council’s ­inspection regime “wholly inadequate” and accused staff of being complacent.

Read the full story from the source: Mirror

Read all articles about Camden Council on this blog

Barnet Council trying to sell public land to ease budget pressures

Campaigners launch ombudsman complaint in bid to save Hendon FC's former ground in Cricklewood

A statement from the council said it was looking to market the site to “help ease budget pressures”.
However, campaigners Gordon Kerr and Robert Goymour argue “This land belongs to the public, not the council, and it's not up to them to try and sell it off to make quick money. It's a community asset and must remain so.” 

[My comment: Ease the budget pressures so they can do what? Pay their senior officer even more money like Wokingham!]

Read the full story from the source: (Barnet) Times

Read all articles about Barnet Council (London Borough) on this blog