LGA chief defends council bosses’ ‘astonishing’ expenses
Council chief executives use of personal expenses are ‘part and parcel’ of the jobs, chief of the Local Government Association John Ransford has said.
Mr Ransford defended council bosses following an Freedom of Information investigation of 340 authorities by the Daily Telegraph which showed local authority chief executives had, since 2008 charged £2.6m expenses to corporate credit cards, around £1.2m since May 2010.
Breaking the figures down, the Telegraph reported that £340,000 was spent on hotel accommodation, £206,000 charged to bars and restaurants and £61,000 spent international travel.
Quirkier items of individual spend included Liverpool City Council chief executive, Colin Hilton, spending £1,152 on tickets for a concert by pop band Coldplay.
In defence, John Ransford said ‘It is part and parcel of the job that they have to travel to meet top people from the public and private sectors, and this can involve stays in hotels and the proportionate use of hospitality.’
But communities secretary Eric Pickles said he found it ‘astonishing’ that some council chiefs thought this spend was appropriate.
‘These revelations reinforce the need for stringent controls of the government procurement card to ensure the taxpayer never has to foot the bill again for what appears to be a systematic abuse of public money,’ Mr Pickles said.
The body representing council chief executives, Solace, recently published a statement outlining the scope and importance of the role, admitting that it was 'not well undertsood'.
You scratch my back and i'll scratch yours, and so the gravy train rumbles on fleecing the country. It is an absolute disgrace what is happening in the public sector. It is commonplace for managers to put proposed sick days in the holiday planner sheets such is the arrogance of the senior civil servants. I am sorry but the public sector as we know it is past its sell by date and all services provided by them should be privatised as far as possible.Michael Dewar, Added: Thursday, 1 December 2011 10:07 PM
Cherry picking times from a list of spending without putting into any sort of context is just the sort of cheap shot one has come to expect from the likes of Pickles. If this continues, all that will happen is, that instead of using an efficient payment process ie the credit card, these people will go back to the expensive and time consuming process of purchase orders and invoices, whilst still spending on the same items.Roger, Added: Saturday, 29 October 2011 06:05 PM
The fact remains they should stop pleading poverty and do the easy things. Which is stop purchasing things like Coldplay tickets, at Taxpayers Expense. Most of these people are struggling to buy energy and food whilst these dolts are wasting their money. Simples .. .J Smith, Added: Saturday, 22 October 2011 03:34 PM
This is, as usual, a piece of gross misrepresentation. Pickles has deliberately chosen a long time period to make the total large, but as Stephen Reimer points out, its hardly a large sum when divided between all the Authorities. Local Authorities are complex, multi-million pound enterprises. Show me a private sector firm of comparable size where the Chief Executive spends this little on expenses a month! Using credit cards is often the quickest and cheapest way to do things - saving us money.Stephen McNair - Policy Researcher, Added: Friday, 21 October 2011 08:14 AM
All these similar types of organisations are a cover-up and protection screen for all government bodies and councils. they are to give the people (the ultimate paymasters) the impression that there are bodies that keep government paid people in check. These are no more than smoke screens. The people in this country are being totally hoodwinked all the time. the LGO is a fine example hee comprising of former CE who sit in jusdgement over their fellow current Chief Exectives. An absolute con.David Hill, Added: Monday, 17 October 2011 07:52 PM
I think that we all becoming immune to the stupidity issuing forth from Eric Pickles. Perhaps it is time to stop covering the diatribe that he spouts?Chris Kitcher, Added: Monday, 17 October 2011 07:47 PM
Council geeks defending that which cannot be defended. Council chiefs plead poverty, cut the frontline, whilst engaging in this largesse. Just stop all such expenses now . . The more you see you have to question is this the right way to deliver the minimum of cost effective services required. Most CT payers would say no. . .Who will rid us of this sore? Lets hope he enjoyed Coldplay, I wonder whether his CT payers could afford the tickets?J Smith, Added: Monday, 17 October 2011 02:21 PM
When will Pickles engage brain before he speaks? ?1.2m over all the councils for 17 months works out to ?150 a month. There will be a variation on how these expenses are incurred dependent on the size of the authority but doesn't seem overly excessive. Surely as Mr Emms said explanations are required rather than rants from Pickles who is obviously out to make a name for himself. My advice is to look at the billions wasted by central government before the thousands in local government.Stephen Reimer, Added: Monday, 17 October 2011 02:00 PM
Mr. Hankey betrays the knee-jerk, rather than well-thought-out nature of his little spat by rather absurdly including MPs and MEPs under Local Government. John Ransford is obviously right, but the problem with this sort of exercise is that you can come to no conclusion (or, remembering Mr. Hankey, no rational conclusion) without examining the detail - what was each expense for and what did it achieve> All it raises is questions. No answers. E.g. the Coldplay concert?John Emms, Added: Monday, 17 October 2011 01:13 PM
Ah, the 'Local Government Gravy Train'!! Where will it end? MPs, MEPs, Chief Executives the list is endless and all coming from taxpayers' hard earned cash. It is appalling rather than "astonishing" as we all know it goes on and because it is so commonplace we are not as shocked as we should be. This is another example of the wastage that is going on across the whole country across all Councils irrespective of political persuasion.David Hankey, Added: Monday, 17 October 2011 12:46 PM
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