Monday, 17 August 2009

The local authority gravy train

The Journal 17 August 2009 front page headline

Thought MPs were well paid? There are 494 people who have higher salaries in the North east - and YOU are picking up the bill.

There are 97 employees of Durham County Council earning more than £63,291 a year, costing the charge payers £8,284,843 - that's an average of £85,410 each.

18 employees of Durham Police earn £1,436,408 or £79,800 each.

Durham County Council claims that it has had a big reduction in higher earners since it started reorganising.

So why was the gravy train allowed to chug along the tracks for solong?

Monday, 3 August 2009

Councillors' pay

Is this the only person in County Durham supporting the rise in councillors' pay?

As published on the Northern Ech website 12:00pm Saturday 1st August 2009 "Have your say" And you can have yours through our comment facility

PERHAPS Durham county councillors could be accused of bad timing, but to describe them as ready “to dip their noses in the trough” over their (now agreed) 20 per cent allowance rise – as did Ralph Hughes (HAS, July 29) – is disingenuous to say the least.

Although some councillors have full-time employment, thus having to fit in a personal life around the pressures of council work and a job, others work full-time as councillors.

Certainly, I cannot see how the leader, deputy leader, cabinet members and chairman of the council can carry out their responsibilities efficiently and effectively and keep an employer happy at the same time.

So how do we expect them to house, feed and clothe themselves and their families?

Anyone who has had any contact with councillors must know that to be a good one requires a lot of time, effort and energy. I know a lot of good ones.

If there is any discussion to be had it should centre on the rationale of fewer councillors being paid at much higher rates so that they can focus fully on the issues of their communities.

Surely I can’t be the only voter who thinks that if you pay peanuts you’ll inevitably get some…
Olwyn Gunn,
Co Durham.

Monday, 29 June 2009

Councillor acquitted over row with wife

A Durham County councillor has been acquitted iver a charge he assaulted his estranged wife following a row over private number plates. Dave Farry, an independent councillor stood trial at Newton Aycliffe Magistrates Court.

Mr. Farry denied assaulting his wife, Amanda, at the home they shared above the post office in Eldon Terrace, Ferryhill, despite being seperated.

chairman of the bench, Nigel Scott, said he found both parites to be palusable. He also noted that a child, who was a few feet away during the incident, did not wake up and concluded that the prosecution had not met the burden of proof.

Thursday, 9 April 2009

Ex-councillors leave Labour over funding issue

Taken from an article in the Northern Echo:

Former members of a district council have announced they are leaving the Labour Party.

Carl Christer and his mother Hilary were members of Derwentside district council before it was replaced by Durham county council.

They said the reason for the change of political allegiance was because of increases in council tax to fund the new Stanley town council. They blame Durham north mp Kevan Jones, who was responsible for proposing and supporting the creation of the council.

Mr Christer, who has represented the ward of Annfield plain since 2001, said: “the town council is a glorified talking shop and now they are taking money out of people’s pocket to massage their own egos at a time when people can ill afford it.

“Kevan Jones and the labour party are completely out of touch with the views of real local people and it is clear that there has been no real regard to local people in this matter.”

The council tax precept for a band d property to support the town council is about £110 a year per household.

Mrs Christer, who represented Catchgate, said: “this will affect some of the least well off members of our community. We have raised a number of concerns about the handling of this process from the start, and it is clear from talking to the local people that they have real concerns.”

Tom Pattison, Chairman of Stanley town council, declined to comment.

Me Jones said: “it is sad and ironic that two days after they are no longer getting paid as councillors, they have decided to take this stance. It is also sad that they were not brave enough to contact me before going to the papers.”

Mp's expenses row.... again

A small piece found in the April 3rd-16th edition of Private Eye

“The time that a jobseeker is expected to travel from his home to his place of employment has increased from one hour to one and a half hours each way.”

So boasts the government of one of its recent crackdowns on the work-shy under minister for employment and welfare reform, Tony McNulty. Anyone who turns down a position on the grounds that this is to far to commute will instantly lose their £60.50 Jobseekers Allowance.

The journey from Westminster to Mr McNulty’s “constituency home” in Harrow takes around 45 minutes by tube. This is, however, sufficient for him to have been able to claim around £60,000 in “additional costs allowance” for the house, let his parents live there, and reside nine miles away in Hammersmith instead.

Tuesday, 31 March 2009

The smell of decay settles over Westminster

The Brown ending to Labour’s electoral dominance mirrors ever more closely the Major years – especially with the ever increasing whiff of decay. We see yet again how all power corrupts:

The Home Secretary in two separate rows over expenses.
  • Prisons Minister Tony McNulty ditto
  • Ex-Minister Nigel Griffiths exposed by the News of the World for inappropriate (shall we say) use of his Parliamentary office late at night.
  • Ex-Ministers Adam Ingram and John Reid have set up companies to garner six figure fees they are now earning.

Of course it’s pretty obvious that there’s a concerted campaign going on to “get Labour”, but there’s certainly something to be “got” too. The House of Commons Authorities should be having an urgent look for the leeker in their midst. The selective release of information ahead of formal publications seems to be politically motivated – and there’s no room for that in an impartial civil service.

But this certainly seems to be the point of no return. Up to now it has been possible to compose an argument that Labour could still claw their way back from their dismal poll showing. That no longer seems to be the case.

But before rejoicing, reflect that the Tories are saying privately already that their spending cuts will be savage. You have been warned!

Monday, 30 March 2009

Of troughs and snouts

As we all know, Britain is in its worst recession for a century. So what better time for:

-Councillors in Darlington to continue with the Mayor getting paid for that job and any other he cares to take on.

-Members of Durham Police Authority more than doubling their own allowance.

-Executives at Newcastle Airport, majority owned by local councils, get £3.8 million bonuses

-Councils about to be abolished rushing through planning applications.

-And rumours abound of massive pay offs for senior council officials taking “early retirement”. If you have any information about this, let us know. We’re not afraid to publish the truth the others seek to hide!