Local Politics

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My tax pounds at waste.

Sunday, February 21st, 2010

Apparently, British taxpayers cannot know what obscene amounts of money their local councils waste on inflated salaries of their bureaucrats…’cause we might get upset and do something rash.

Council bosses refused a Government order to reveal the salaries of thousands of senior staff over fears it would lead to a public backlash.
Last year it was announced that councils would be forced to reveal the full extent of their pay, bonuses and pensions under sweeping changes to Government rules.
It followed a public outcry after it was revealed council bosses across the country earned more than the Prime Minister, while householders struggled with rising council tax and, often, poor quality services.
In December it was announced that councils would only have to disclose the full details of staff earning more than £150,000 a year – believed to be about 114 staff across the country.

They will now only have to list the number of staff and job titles of those earning more than £50,000, without naming them.

Personally I don’t feel any animosity towards overpaid bureaucrats filling all sorts of unecessary positions on my local and county councils – it’s not their fault if they get themselves a good gig with great pay, guaranteed pension and a relatively light workload. What does wind me up is the thought of the spineless and unprincipled local and county cretins councillors who voted these positions with their exorbitant salaries and generous perks into existence in the first place.

Just to give you an idea how far out of line the wages paid to local bureacrats are – the average wage in this country is about £25,000 per annum. The Chief Executive of my local council earns four times that. Runnymede Council has a population of about 84,000 so it’s not as if it is a huge jurisdiction. The chief Executive of Surrey County Council is probably earning close to double that – and Runnymede and Surrey are relatively well-governed, fiscally conservative Tory-run councils – the thought of the waste to be found in Labour or Lib-Dem run councils boggles the mind.

A word of advice on dealing with petty tyranny

Wednesday, February 17th, 2010

A fellow blogger, and acquaintance of mine, Stephen Allison, is fighting a battle with the Hartlepool Council executive over their penchant for keeping even the most minor matters secret from non-Labour councillors.

Steve, a UKIP councillor sent a request under the Freedom of Information Act.

The response is a laundry list of minor issues, the type of local concerns dealt with by local governments across the UK every week, but which the Hartlepool Labour leadership think is of such a sensitive nature that it should be kept from the elected members of the council. A few examples:

4. Procurement Of Specialist Outdoor Play Equipment For Exmoor Grove (Para 3) – Director of Child and Adult Services…

6. 19 St Columba’s Parish Centre, Dryden Road (para 3) – Assistant Director (Procurement and Asset Management)

9. Sale Of Garage Land At Victoria Place (para 3) – Assistant Director (Procurement and Asset Management)

16. Dial a Ride Service Review (para 3) – Assistant Director (Transport and Engineering Services)

This is silly, even by Hartlepool standards which is saying something. Try as I might I just can’t see how selling council garages or purchasing playground equipment can be matters the details of which are so sensitive that they shoud be withheld from elected councillors.

Well, actually I can see a scenario where this information might be deemed too sensitive to be released – it begins with a “K” and ends with an “S”

I doubt Steve will get anywhere pursuing this matter on behalf of the good burghers of Hartlepool, but he could, I suggest, take a more direct line of action:

At the very least it would make the council meetings go quicker and get him a great deal of media coverage.