Sunday, 28 August 2011

Pembrokeshire County Council lack of scrutiny

Pembrokeshire County Council’s scrutiny system has been labelled a ‘self-congratulatory tea party’ following last week’s scathing reports.

The issue of how officers shared information with councillors and the negative impact that had on members’ decision making were among criticisms highlighted.

“The leader, cabinet members and members of the independent group seem to see their role as friends and supporters of senior officers. Shame on them,” said Cllr Beckton.

My comment: What we have in Pembrokeshire County Council is typical of what is happening in many councils. Weak, pathetic and not fit for purpose councillors letting unelected officers run the show. In essence the unelected tail wagging the elected dog.

Read the full story from the source Western Telegraph

Read all articles about Pembrokeshire County Council on this blog

Pembrokeshire County Council leader should resign!

Long-standing and systemic issues regarding allegations of professional abuse were uncovered and Pembrokeshire County Council was accused of putting its reputation before the safety of children.

Despite numerous damning issues being identified – including children not being listened to when making abuse allegations – council leader Cllr John Davies ruled out any resignations. He said they would “do what is necessary and not a knee-jerk reaction.”

My comment: Any councillor who puts the reputation of their council before the safety of children is not fit for purpose and those involved should have the decency to resign! The only knee jerk reaction should be the electorate kicking them up the backside.

Especially since they also let unelected Council Officers run the Council

Read the full story from the source Western Telegraph

Read all articles about Pembrokeshire County Council on this blog

Wednesday, 24 August 2011

Plainclothed policeman 'kicked man's head like a football'

A plainclothed police constable kicked an arrested man's head “like a football” while he was being restrained by four officers, a court heard.

 PC Edward Prince, 31, is accused of assaulting Downham man Nyron Games, following a chase on foot along Brighton Road, Purley, on November 6, 2009.

Giving evidence against her colleague PC Tina Bassett said: “I could not believe what I saw. “What I saw was completely against all ethics of being a police officer.”

My comment: Waiting for the judgement before commenting. 

Read the full story from the source This is Local London

Read all articles about the Police on this blog

UPDATE 1st September 2011: Pc guilty of kicking arrested man.

A policeman was convicted today of kicking a Trinidadian drug convict while arresting him.

Pc Edward Prince was found unanimously guilty by a jury at Southwark Crown Court, in London, of intentionally kicking Nyrone Games in the face.

Police colleagues gave both prosecution and defence evidence - with officers contradicting one another forcefully about what happened.

Games's blood and saliva were found on Prince's shoe, but he said they could have come from bending down so closely to him. 

My comment: Wonder he didn't try to argue that the victim head butted his shoe. 

Read the full story from the source The Independent

Read all articles about the Police on this blog

Monday, 22 August 2011

Council chief executives enjoy pay rises as services are cut

More than half of Britain’s highest paid council bosses gave themselves a pay rise last year despite orders from the Government to slash their salaries, an investigation by The Daily Telegraph has found.

Town Hall chief executives have seen their pay packets rise by as much as £17,000 while cutting front line services, including libraries, care for the elderly and bin collections.

Steve Robinson, the chief executive of Cheshire West and Chester Council, saw his total pay rise by £17,000 to £235,000 last year, including pension and benefits. The average pay packet of the chief executives surveyed was £186,872.

His total packet took him to 14th place in the list of the country’s highest paid council bosses.

The average pay packet of the chief executives surveyed was £186,872.

Check out your council CEO here.

My comment: Who will stop this CEO gravy train stop?

Read the full story from the source The Telegraph

Sunday, 21 August 2011

Rossendale council scrap universal doorstep rubbish collections

Doorstep rubbish collections have been scrapped in Britain for the first time since they were introduced more than 130 years ago.

Rossendale council in Lancashire has stopped the service for hundreds of residents in rural areas who now have to drive or carry their rubbish down narrow country lanes to "collection points" up to a mile away from their homes.

Campaigners accused the council of using the tough economic climate as "an excuse to cut a basic service offered by any civilised society".

The council has stopped collecting rubbish from nearly 700 rural households. Instead they have to take their refuse to 100 "collection points", some as far as a mile from their home.

The measure will save the council £92,000 by scrapping two small bin lorries which can cope with the narrow roads.

My comment: The thin end of the wedge? I was under the impression that councils had a statutory duty to, no matter of infrequent, to collect rubbish from your house. I hope the people involved are going to fight for a council tax reduction.

Read the full story from the source The Telegraph

UPDATED 22nd August 2011:  It has been brought to my attention from the comment below that an online petition to oppose the cuts has been started. Be aware that if they get away with it in Rossendale your council may be next to cut collections!

Nature of this Petition:

We the undersigned oppose the cuts in doorstep bin collections at farm, rural, outlying and hard to reach properties, resulting from the Special Meeting of the Council Cabinet on 26th January 2011, because of the negative disruption, cost and littering it causes to residents and all affected neighbours.

We call upon the Council to:

Reverse its decision to end doorstep bin collections. Also to continue doorstep bin collections at these properties, until and unless there has been fair, fully costed and wide ranging consultations with all residents who could be directly and indirectly affected.

Use the link above or click here to sign

Saturday, 20 August 2011

Pembrokeshire County Council: Unelected officers control the council

The issue of openness and accountability within Pembrokeshire County Council has bubbled to the surface once again following the two reports which have sent shockwaves through the authority.

Opposition members have long argued that unelected council officers have too much influence, leaving most democratically elected members sidelined.

The Estyn report detailed instances where officers have “managed” information provided to councillors by removing details. It adds that officers do not routinely share information fully with elected members.

The joint Estyn and CSSIW report said senior officers do not provide elected members with the information necessary to discharge their responsibilities for safeguarding.

It paid particular attention to the role of the Chief Officers Management Board (COMB) – made up of the chief executive Bryn Parry-Jones and other senior staff, including departmental directors. Meetings of COMB have no standing agenda items and no formal records of meetings.

My comment: This case highlights a common problem with many councils. Weak and pathetic, or conspiring councillors allowing a cabal of senior officers to control their councils. Now let's see if the councillors have the balls to do the job they were elected to do. And that includes sacking those responsible. The only alternative is for the electorate to vote out the idiots who allowed this happen in the first place, the councillors. 

Read the full story from the source Western Telegraph More here

Read all articles about Pembrokeshire County Council on this blog

Suspension threat over East Riding Councillor's free tarmac

AN UNDER-fire councillor at the centre of a new controversy over the use of spare tarmac from a council contract could be facing a partial suspension.

The Mail understands senior figures in the ruling Conservative group on East Riding Council are considering suspending Councillor Charles Bayram.

The former planning committee chairman did not pay for the work and claimed it was normal practice for contractors to donate leftover tarmac to local farmers.

My comment: It was normal practice for MPs to fiddle their expenses but that doesn't make it right. Here are two more examples of taxpayer funded freebies for elected representatives. 1 2

Read the full story from the source This is Hull and East Riding

Friday, 19 August 2011

Councils are rewarding staff with free parking - while hiking charges for everyone else

Nearly 80,000 public sector workers benefit from the perk - worth £112MILLION a year.

Meanwhile fat cat councils rake in £1.2BILLION a year from soaring charges for parking meters, penalty tickets and resident permits.

And if councils charged their staff for the parking spaces, it would help to ease crippling budget cuts.

Campaigners were furious at figures obtained by The Sun under freedom of information requests to 353 local authorities in England.

Surrey County Council topped the list with 1,496 spaces - worth £4.6million a year. 

My comment: I wonder if HMRC is aware of these perks? 

Read the full story from the source The Sun

MOD paying consultants £4,000 a day to tell them how to save money

PEN pushers at the Ministry of Defence are using consultants earning £4,000 a day to advise them on how to save taxpayers’ money.

The eight consultants are also set to get a 30 per cent success fee, pushing up their pay to more than £5,000 a day each.

Details of the consultancy contract were disclosed after a Freedom of Information request by website

Peter Smith, founder of spendmatters, said that the MoD had handed out “top of the market rates”.

My comment: I have a revolutionary money saving idea for the MOD, sack the managers who need help identifying where they can save money. Part of the everyday job of senior managers should be identifying were the organisation can save money. If they can't do it sack them, don't fork out for others to help them do their job!

Here are a few more free suggestions for the MOD.

Control your credit card spending £1 Billion 

Keep track of your assets £6.5 Billion worth of assets lost

Stop wasting money entertaining elected representatives £50 Million wasted 

Stop buying duff equipment £1.5 Million wasted 

Don't pay £22 for 65p lightbulbs £21.35 per light bulb wasted

Read the full story from the source The Express

Read all articles about the MOD on this blog

Policeman arrested in Keynsham over cannabis find

A policeman from Keynsham has been arrested in connection with a haul of cannabis plants discovered at a house.

PC David Price, 28, who is an officer with the Metropolitan Police, was reportedly arrested after a video emerged of plants, believed to be cannabis, being grown under lights in a loft.

The father-of-four is said to be based in London but lives with his partner, 25-year-old Emily Baylis, in Keynsham.

The couple were arrested by detectives from the force’s Directorate of Professional Standards Anti Corruption Command after being contacted by the Daily Mirror, it is reported.

According to the paper PC Price was recently summoned back from holiday for duty during the recent riots in London.

My comment: I wonder if he has ever arrested anyone for growing cannabis?

Read the full story from the source This is Bath

Read all articles about the Police on this blog

Thursday, 18 August 2011

Birmingham City Council awarded PwC £250k contract without tendering

An inquiry is under way after Birmingham City Council broke its own rules by failing to put a £254,000 contract with financial consultants PricewaterhouseCoopers out to tender.

Council chief executive Stephen Hughes has ordered a disciplinary investigation into the conduct of senior city officials who approved a deal with PwC to deliver a programme of behavioural change workshops with 100 local authority managers.

He admitted officers did not follow proper procedures because they were “working to an extremely tight timescale” to get the contract signed.

My comment: Same old excuses when they get caught out.

Read the full story from the source Birmingham Post

Read all articles about Birmingham City Council on this blog

Former Camden Councillor escapes jail despite admitting £12k fraud

A former councillor has escaped jail despite admitting fraudulently claiming thousands of pounds in benefits while attending council meetings.

Christopher John Basson, a former Liberal Democrat councillor, dishonestly claimed the benefits despite receiving an allowance from Camden Council.

Despite telling officials from the Department of Work and Pensions that he was not “working”, he also received nearly £26,000 in allowances during his three years as an elected member of the north London borough.

On Wednesday at Westminster magistrates’ court Basson, of Hampstead, north west London, was jailed for 28 days, suspended for a year.

My comment:  When you compare the sentence with others the only thing that comes to mind is WTF! 

Read the full story from the source The Telegraph

Dover District Councillor suspended after calling rioters 'jungle bunnies'

Bob Frost, a councillor on Dover District Council in Kent, made the comments on August 7 as riots and looting spread throughout London.

A panel of district council members will meet to discuss Cllr Frost's comments before deciding on further action later this month.

 Deputy leader of the Tory-run council Sue Chandler said: "There is no place in our society for this kind of language.

"We have therefore suspended Mr Frost from the Conservative Group pending an investigation."

My comment: Yet another not fit for purpose councillor. 

Read the full story from the source The Telegraph

UPDATE 9th September 2011: Tory councillor sacked from teaching job at grammar school after calling rioters 'jungle bunnies' on Facebook.

A grammar school teacher and Tory councillor has lost his job after calling rioters who brought havoc to the country last month ‘jungle bunnies’.

Bob Frost, a maths teacher at the prestigious Sir Roger Manwood’s grammar and boarding school, made the comment on the social networking site Facebook on August 7.

Soon afterwards the 49-year-old was suspended from his position as a Tory councillor on Dover District Council in Kent after fellow councillors spotted his offensive comments on the social networking site.

Then on Monday this week Mr Frost lost his job at the highly-regarded 912-pupil grammar school, the 96th oldest school in the UK, which was founded in 1563 by barrister Sir Roger Manwood.

Deputy leader of the Tory-run council Sue Chandler said: ‘There is no place in our society for this kind of language.

‘We have therefore suspended Mr Frost from the Conservative Group pending an investigation.’

My comment: We will have to wait and see what the council do following their investigation and meeting. 

Read the full story from the source Mail on Line

Wednesday, 17 August 2011

Croydon Council offer to supply staff for private event at taxpayer's expense

DrupalCon 2011 will be staged in… Croydon.

What's Drupal?  "The simple answer is that it's a great CMS (Content Management System), social networking application, forum, and blogging tool - the more complete answer is that Drupal is a framework for quickly and reliably building all kinds of powerful web applications." Drupal helps other Open Source projects build their communities

"Steven George has been described in press reports as the “event organiser”. He has said publicly: “Drupal is already taking Europe by storm and with an action-packed agenda of high-profile speakers and thousands of attendees from across the globe, Fairfield Halls was the ideal location to host what we hope will be the best DrupalCon event to date.

Steven George is the husband of Clare Hilley, a Conservative councillor for Waddon ward in Croydon.

The Fairfield Halls in Croydon is not owned by the council, yet earlier this year, it received a £1.5 million grant from the council, at the same time that Croydon’s CEO, Jon Rouse, was a director of the company that manages the venue, Fairfield (Croydon) Ltd.

The event’s own website claims that the conference has sold out its registrations, 1,800 delegates each paying at least £250. At that rate, that’s nearly £500,000 in ticket sales alone for the organisers.

On Monday, the Croydon Council intranet carried a message appealing for a dozen council employees to “volunteer” as “steward ambassadors”, “to provide maximum reassurance to these international visitors”. The message further stated that: “Jon Rouse has agreed that time off will be granted in lieu for anyone who takes part…”

My comment: Why is Croydon Council using taxpayer's money to effectively pick up the wages bill for 12 steward ambassadors to help a private company host a private  event? I hope the Taxpayer's Alliance are all over this.

Read the full story from the source Inside Croydon and make your own mind up.

Read all articles about Croydon Council LB on this blog

Edinburgh City spends £500k a year supporting union work

City chiefs have been urged to investigate new figures that show nearly £500,000 of taxpayers' money is spent every year supporting trade union officials representing council workers in Edinburgh.

Conservative councillor Gordon Buchan has called for a probe by council chief executive Sue Bruce after figures showed that giving staff time off work for union duties cost £473,965 in 2009/10.

The figure in Edinburgh is more than double the amount that Glasgow City Council said it costs.

At the city council, the equivalent of 17.5 full-time workers are permanently dedicated to doing union work.

My comment: The fact that it's more than double the amount of Glasgow City Council council demands an explanation.

Read the full story from the source Edinburgh Evening News 

Read all articles about Edinburgh City Council on this blog

Tuesday, 16 August 2011

Durham County Council paid councillors £110,000 in travelling expenses

A local authority facing budget cuts of nearly £125m paid councillors more than £110,000 in travel expenses last year, it has emerged.

Last year, it emerged the council had paid £6.3m in travel expenses to staff in 12 months, prompting finance chief Jeff Garfoot to say the costs would be reviewed.

Reader's comment [stevegg]: These councillors are in the same league as the MP's with a one rule for them another rule for us attitude. Its funny how they can instantly slash and make savings on public expenditure but when it comes to cutting their own extravagance its a different story! An independent public body from the council electorate should oversee these vultures expenses.”

Read the full story from the source The Northern Echo

Read all articles about Durham County Council on this blog

Friday, 12 August 2011

Cumbria detective Mark Fisher jailed for misconduct

A Cumbria detective who used police computers to access women's details has been jailed for four years after being found guilty of misconduct.

Judge Paul Batty QC at Carlisle Crown Court told Fisher he had disgraced the public office he held.

During the trial, the married father of two admitted having sex with the victim of an alleged attack, and showing her a picture of the woman accused of assaulting her.

He said he had "just wanted sex" and had made mistakes.

When the offences were carried out, between 2008 and 2010, Fisher was a sexual offenders' manager based in the force's Public Protection Unit.

My comment: Another you couldn't make it up story, a sexual offenders' manager guilty of misconduct for having sex. 

Read the full story from the source BBC News

Read all articles about the Police on this blog

Winchester City councillor Ian Tait fined for obstructing police officer

A HAMPSHIRE councillor who waded in while police were trying to arrest a suspect ended up being arrested himself.

Two officers were carrying out a drugs search on a suspect and had him pinned to the ground when they were approached by Councillor Ian Tait.

Tait admitted a charge of obstructing a police officer. Magistrates ordered Tait to pay a fine of £175.

Tait, who mitigated for himself, said he had been drinking having had four beers and three whiskeys, but did not believe in his mind that he was drunk.

My comment: He should have accepted he was drunk because if he wasn't, as he believed, the only excuse left was that he's an idiot. 

Read the full story from the source The Daily Echo

Ex-city council leader jailed over years of child sex abuse

FORMER Derby City Council leader Maurice Burgess has been jailed for five years for child sex offences.

Ex-Liberal Democrat leader Burgess has admitted indecently assaulting four boys, aged seven to 11 years old, between 1989 and 1994.

The offences came to light after one of Burgess' victims phoned asking him to admit that he had abused him almost 20 years ago.

Burgess, of Porter Road, Normanton, initially denied the offences but then confessed to a police officer who was part of his church congregation.

The 63-year-old then told police there had been three other victims, who confirmed the offences when officers contacted them.

This is not the first time Burgess has been convicted of sexually abusing boys. In 2006, he was given a suspended sentence for indecently assaulting a seven-year-old boy in 1983.

Burgess, who was a city council candidate at the time, would invite boys back to his home to play on his computer and read magazines.

Burgess was elected as a councillor in 1994 and remained one for 12 years. He was the Liberal Democrat leader of Derby City Council from 2003 until July 2005.

HE may have experienced many highs during his time in Derby but, last night, self-confessed child abuser Maurice Burgess hit a new low – jailed for five years for paedophilia.

In between those offences, he acted as leader of Derby City Council, having failed to declare the very first conviction when he stood as a councillor in Littleover. 

My comment: Another wrong un who managed to wangle himself into a position of power. Where were the safeguards where was the scrutiny, why an earth do they believe the person who makes a declaration, did no one check?  

Read the full story from the source This is Derbyshire

Read all articles about Derby City Council on this blog

Thursday, 11 August 2011

Sensitive Welsh Government documents found in country hedge

AN INQUIRY has been launched to find out how Welsh Government invoices ended up in a hedge in Pembrokeshire.

The envelope was discovered by a local woman in a hedge near her home in the village of Eglwyswrw. The file containing the documents was marked ‘Restricted’ and originated from the Welsh Government’s office in Merthyr Tydfil. It was addressed to Government offices in Llandudno.

There were over 30 pages of documents including invoices inside the envelope, with charges adding up to many thousands of pounds.

My comment:  I wonder if they will get done by the local council for fly tipping? Did they think they were in Merthyr Landfil?

Read the full story from the source Wales on Line

Sunday, 7 August 2011

Quangos and Councils taking taxpayers for a ride

QUANGOS and councils have splashed out over £220million in 12 months on leasing and buying new cars for bosses and staff, including luxury Porsches, Jaguars and BMWs.

In the 12 months to March this year more than £184million was spent on new cars while a further £35million was paid out on hiring further motors.

The list of new luxury vehicles being snapped up includes 66 Alfa Romeos and 17 upmarket Audi TTs. Quangos and councils went to town on car hire, with more than 600 BMWs, 500 Audi A3s, gas-guzzling Chrysler Jeeps and more than 500 sporty BMW Mini Coopers.

A Lotus Elise was also leased, a Porsche Boxster, a Porsche Cayman, more than 100 Mercedes Benz and 17 Jaguars and 30 Land Rovers.

The highest car bill came from Sunderland City Council which spent more than £800,000.

My comment: Fat Cats - Jaguars very appropriate if somewhat expensive for the taxpayer to fund but a Porsche Boxster and 600 BMWs WTF!

Read the full story from the source Express

Saturday, 6 August 2011

Northamptonshire County Council turns off street lights whilst County Hall remains floodlit

LIGHTING experts have criticised Northamptonshire County Council for the way the authority has handled the county’s street light switch-off programme and for leaving its own headquarters floodlit.

Dim Councillors need plenty of light
The council is currently implementing a project to switch off 33,000 street lights across the county to save £2 million a year.

But opposition politicians have criticised the council for leaving County Hall in Northampton town centre illuminated while street lights across the county are being switched off.

My Comment: The only reason I can think of is because County Hall is full or dim councillors. Pun intended! 

Read the full story from the source Northampton Chronicle

Friday, 5 August 2011

York City Council’s £7k bill for stolen mobile phones and computers

CASH-STRAPPED council bosses in York have been saddled with a bill of almost £7,000 to replace lost or stolen mobile phones and computers.

City of York Council employees misplaced 76 phones – all of which were uninsured – in the space of two-and-a-half years, according to figures obtained by The Press under the Freedom of Information Act.

Between June 2008 and the end of last year, 29 phones and five computers bought by the authority and used by staff fell into the hands of thieves, and senior managers are now being urged to adopt a get-tough approach to keeping property safe.

Coun Ian Gillies, leader of the council’s Conservative group, said: “Managers should also be carrying out proper inventories, looking for trends in where things are going missing and taking appropriate action.” 

My comment: Should? Does Councillor Gillies mean they haven't been doing it.

Read the full story from the source The York Press

Read all articles about York City Council on this blog

Two magistrates' court staff arrested after taking £500 bribes

Two members of staff at a magistrates' court have been arrested amid allegations of bribes to erase speeding records.

It follows a newspaper investigation in which a clerk was filmed apparently agreeing to take £500 in return for a promise to clear a motorist.

Munir Patel, 21, boasted that he took bribes ‘all day long’ at Redbridge Magistrates' Court, East London,

A Ministry of Justice spokesman confirmed that two members of staff from Redbridge Magistrates' Court in Essex have been suspended.

My comment: Is there any area of public service that doesn't attract the corrupt?

Read the full story from the source Mail on Line

Thursday, 4 August 2011

Merton Council leader criticised amid fraud claims

Merton's council leader has been accused of a serious lapse of judgement after throwing his weight behind plans to build a nursing home eight miles away in Croydon - which are now embroiled in a fraud investigation.

Separately, it has also emerged the chief executive of Croydon Council has called an inquiry in to allegations of that council officers colluded with the developer, Fairlie Health Care.

Merton Conservative group leader, Councillor Debbie Shears, said she would report Coun Alambritis (Labour) to the council’s standards committee, which would decide whether he should be investigated for abusing his power as leader.

My comment: A Councillor backing a development, council officers being investigated for colluding with a developer. Isn't that normal behaviour in most councils?

Read the full story from the source Croydon Guardian

Watford Borough Council spends £100,000 on how to save money

Cost-cutting Watford Borough Council has paid a consultant more than £100,000 – to tell it how to save money.

The council confirmed this afternoon that it has been employing a consultant from the company since July 2010 to “deliver further efficiency savings.” The contract, which runs until September 30 this year, will cost taxpayers a total of £97,875 plus VAT.

My comment: I can't beat a comment from a reader of the Observer article -  "Surely the council can find savings itself without paying a consultant £100k to do it for them. If not, then the best way to make savings would be to make all the decision makers at the council redundant since they are unable to do their jobs and need to pay a consultant to do it for them.”

Read the full story from the source Watford Observer

Merseyside Police sack five police officers

Five police officers from Merseyside Police's elite gun crime unit have been sacked after a photograph emerged of them ''behaving inappropriately'' inside a house they were supposed to be searching.

Merseyside Police today confirmed that the five officers were dismissed from the force, without notice, having been found guilty of gross misconduct.

My comment: Can it get any worse for the Police and their reputation?

Read the full story from the source Telegraph

Read all articles about the Police on this blog

Manchester City Council #youcouldntmakeitup

Town hall chiefs must pay out thousands of pounds following their ‘deplorable’ violation of a disabled man’s human rights.

Manchester council will have to pay ‘the lion’s share’ of six-figure court costs after a judge blasted the authority for ‘lamentable, deplorable, grave and serious’ failings in the case of the 22-year-old.

The court heard the council had separated him from his foster mum – ‘the only mother he had known.’ The council yesterday lost an appeal in London against the costs order and has been left to pay both the substantial original bill and the cost of its appeal.

The council was found to have breached both E's legal right to liberty and to respect for family life in a damning ruling issued by High Court judge Mr Justice Baker last year.

My comment: After such a damning judgement Manchester Council thought fit to waste even more taxpayer's money on an appeal? Someone should lose their job over this.

Read the full story from the source Manchester Evening News

Thurrock Council #youcouldntmakeitup

THURROCK Council spent more than £900,000 suspending staff on full pay over the last five years, shock new figures reveal.

 We revealed in July 2008 how it had spent £538,720 suspending staff since 2006.  Since then, the authority spent a further £409,940 on “gardening leave”.  The council suspended 54 staff between 2007 and 2010, paying out £588,606.

Of those suspended, 23 were on full pay for more than six months, and 15 for more than a year.

John Kent, fears this is “just the tip of the iceberg” and described the figures as “outrageous”.  He added: “This only tells half the story. When people are suspended you have to pay someone else to do their job.

My comment: So the true cost to the taxpayer is £1.8 Million or on average  £360,000 a year just to fund gardening leave.

Read the full story from the source Thurrock Gazette

Stoke on Trent City Council #youcouldntmakeitup

FIFTEEN top officers at Stoke-on-Trent City Council claimed a share of £115,000 in expenses for moving house to take up their jobs, but none of them actually moved to the city.

Chief Executive John van de Laarschot was among the staff to pocket relocation expenses, topping up his £191,000 income with an allowance of several thousand pounds after switching from Devon's Torridge District Council in 2009.

Annual accounts show Mr van de Laarschot took home £191,032 in salary and allowances, as well as £6,903 in expenses and benefits in kind last year. Contributions to his pension pot totalled £28,640, bringing his total income for 2010/11 to £226,575.

Jim Gibson, chairman of Chell Heath residents' association, said: "It beggars belief. It is ridiculous that they can make rules for the city but won't live here; are we not good enough?

My comment: Can't beat a comment left by by stevenweiss on the original article. "Do stoke city council actually have 15 people who can be honestly described as 'top officers..??” All I would add is does any council have 15 people who can be honestly described as 'top officers'.

Ironically about 6 officers from Stoke on Trent City Council bailed out and got a job with my council, Cheshire West and Chester Council. No doubt they also got moving expenses and an increase in salary. 

What one could best describe as a taxpayer funded council officer musical chairs. The difference being that everyone in the game moves to a bigger and better chair until they reach the throne at the end and then retire with an obscene payout.  

Read the full story from the source This is Staffordshire

Read all articles about Stoke-on-Trent City Council on this blog

Wednesday, 3 August 2011

Chief quits expenses watchdog

The chief of the Commons expenses watchdog has quit just over a week after he was roundly criticised for refusing to name MPs being investigated for dubious claims.

Luke March has resigned as the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority's (Ipsa) compliance officer with immediate effect.

Mr March appeared to be contradicting transparency guidelines set by Ipsa, which indicate that politicians should be identified when a formal probe is launched, and cases should be heard in public where possible.

My comment: With the crucial principle behind the new system being transparency refusing to name the MP was untenable. 

Read the full story from the source Mail on Line

Read all articles about our failing Watchdogs on this blog.

Councillor in court over fraud charges

A West Lothian councillor has appeared in court on fraud charges.

Gordon Beurskens, 48, appeared on petition accused of fraud and forming a fraudulent scheme.

His partner and co-accused Sadie McMillan, 51, appeared in the dock beside him at Livingston Sheriff Court also charged with fraud.

They were both listed as directors of ABW Consultants (Scotland) Ltd., a property company he founded, until it was dissolved last year.

My comment: Another wait and see what the outcome is but in the meantime why are there so many councillors with interests in property companies?

Read the full story from the source BBC News

Three Metropolitan Police officers disciplined

Three Metropolitan Police officers have been disciplined after an Independent Police Complaints Commission investigation into how they handled two allegations of rape.

The officers, two trainee Detective Constables (T/DC) and a Detective Constable (DC), worked in the Southwark Sapphire Team in May 2009 when two women reported they had been raped in separate incidents. The reports were made within 24hours of each other.

The IPCC independent investigation found that the officers dealt with the women in an unprofessional and insensitive manner. This included giving the women negative information about the likelihood of a successful prosecution and inaccurate details of how a specialist medical examination would be conducted.

My comment: It would appear that hardly a day goes by without another story  of Police misconduct hitting the headlines.

Read the full story from the source IPCC

Read all articles about the Police on this blog

Angus Council’s ‘manipulated survey'

Multiple responses submitted from a very few single sources were revealed under Freedom of Information and proved that the ‘survey’ had been fraudulently manipulated.

Some 1,033 hits came from one solitary computer in this ‘consultation’ ‘survey’ on the merger of Muirfield and Timmergreens in a new school.

In the series of comments from this source, the back-slapping for Angus Council’s Convenor of Education, Councillor Peter Nield and his partner-in-crime – Councillor David Fairweather – became more and more apparent.

Hit after hit after hit – all singing the praises for Nield and Fairweather.

Oddly, the phantom typer originally picked a farm site at Arbirlot Road West as the preferred option for the new school, enthusiastically submitting close on 600 votes for that site.

The fact that councillor Nield had sent an e-mail to Angus Council Senior Education officer Craig Clement during the consultation proclaiming the desire to offer a ‘land swap’ between Muirfield and the farm at Arbirlot Road West, cannot, of course, be other than co-incidental.

My comment: Sounds more than a bit iffy to me, but they are not the only public authority or quango that manipulates surveys. 

One example I am aware of is the quango know as the Local Government Ombudsman. They have been manipulating their customer satisfaction surveys for years. Whilst the method used differs from the above, it's a common tactic in the world of surveys. 

All you need to do is select the 'right' people to survey (those who will respond favourably) and exclude the 'wrong' people (those you think may not give you the results you want). What you end up with is a survey which gives you much more favourable results. 

Read the full story from the source Argyll News

Read all articles about Angus Council on this blog

Two Senior Cleveland Police Officers arrested

The chief constable of Cleveland Police and his deputy were arrested on Wednesday as part of an investigation into corruption.

Chief Constable Sean Price and Deputy Chief Constable Derek Bonnard were arrested on suspicion of misconduct in public office, fraud by abuse and corrupt practices by detectives in North Yorkshire. A woman was also arrested on suspicion of the same offences.

My comment: Can't wait for the outcome but all this recent news about the Police in general can't be doing their image any good. 

Read the full story from the source Huff Post

Read all articles about the Police on this blog

Police officers and 'inappropriate material' on the internet

A senior police officer based in Coventry has been suspended following allegations he accessed inappropriate material on the internet.

Read the full story from the source BBC News Coventry & Warwickshire

Meanwhile a Met Police officer has also recently been found guilty after being caught with a child porn stash on his computer.

Read the full story from the source Mail on Line

My comment: Not exactly the highest standards of professionalism and integrity that we expect of our Police officers.  

Read all articles about the Police on this blog

Tuesday, 2 August 2011

Leeds City Council spend £10,000 to hire spare civic limo

CASH-STRAPPED Leeds City Council is spending more than £10,000 a year to hire a limousine for the Lord Mayor – instead of using the civic vehicle it owns.

The revelation comes just weeks after Lord Mayor of Leeds Councillor Reverend Alan Taylor said he was happy to use the bus.

The vehicle – with the number plate U1 – costs the council £10,775 a year to hire.

But the authority owns a stretch Vauxhall Omega – number plate L6 EDS – which is barely used.

My comment: Two limo Leeds, even better than two Jags Prescott.

Read the full story from the source Yorkshire Evening Post

Read all articles about Leeds City Council on this blog

DWP staff spend a fortune of taxpayers' money on food and drink

In a single year Department for Work and Pensions staff gorged themselves on more than £175,000 worth of food and drink that was funded by taxpayers.

About £124,000 went on buffets, sandwiches, snacks and Christmas hampers.

Tens of thousands more was spent on slap-up restaurant meals and groceries.

Taxpayers also picked up the bill at luxury hotels, pubs, a racecourse, Everton Football Club and a shop selling snuff.

The spending sprees were unearthed by a Mirror investigation into the use of Government procurement cards, which officials use to pay for business expenses, often with few checks.

The DWP insists that the cards have always been monitored “very closely and all usage is subject to rigorous financial control” but it admitted that checks were stepped up in October.

My comment: Just how could you excuse some of these purchases? 

Read the full story from the source Mirror

If you have the time please also read this entry about the DWP

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

Wokingham Council accused of spying on widow

An angry widow of more than 35 years has accused council bosses of spying on her after being told she is no longer entitled to a single occupancy council tax discount.

Janet Cook claims officers at Wokingham Borough Council have been snooping through the rubbish bins at her Finchampstead home after the authority wrote to the 74-year-old saying the discounted rate she pays on the four-bedroom property would no longer be available to her as it understood there is more than one person living in the house.

She still receives mail addressed to her late husband, but throws it away once it has been read, prompting her to believe council workers may have been through her bins.

My comments: Bin diving is practised by many councils. The trouble is that they don't have the brains to interpret that data correctly and therein lies the danger.

Read the full story from the source Get Wokingham

Read all articles about Wokingham Borough Council on this blog

£1.1m bill for ‘flash cars’ for senior Welsh Police officers

TWO of Wales’ police forces spent more than £1.1m on top-of -the-range cars in the past four years for the personal use of senior officers and their partners, new figures show.

Chief Officers at Dyfed-Powys Police and South Wales Police were given cars worth up to £45,000 each on top of their annual salaries.

The revelation last night prompted outrage from politicians and campaign group the TaxPayers’ Alliance who questioned the legitimacy of such expenditure in light of the much publicised cutbacks.

The two forces both defended the spending, saying many of the cars doubled as operational police vehicles and were chosen on the value they gave.

A spokeswoman for Dyfed-Powys Police said cars .... are appropriate for policing royal visits. My comment: What a stupid excuse for buying flash cars.

My comment: The old chestnut, 'it's also used for other purposes' to justify a perk. I hope someone in Wales puts in a Freedom of Information request asking how many times these plash cars were actually used by others for operational purposes.

Read the full story from the source Wales on Line 

Read all articles about the Police on this blog

Bolsover Council's money grabbing councillors

In North East Derbyshire Council, councillors are paid a basic allowance of £5,010 per annum, however in neighbouring Bolsover councillors are paid £10,047 – more than twice as much.

Both sets of councillors have the same responsibilities, and as a result, the Independent Remuneration Panel (IRP) in Bolsover has recommended the basic allowance should be cut to £5,354. They haven’t plucked this figure out of the air either. This figure is the average paid to councillors across similar authorities.

Unfortunately, the IRP can only make recommendations. It cannot enforce its will on councillors, who ultimately decide their own pay and perks. It will therefore not surprise you to learn that the turkeys have chosen not to vote for Christmas.

My comment: The fact that Councillors have the power to set their own  pay and perks is ludicrous. I hope the Bolsover electorate remember this come election time and vote out the money grabbers.

Read the full story from the source Taxpayer's Alliance