Thursday, November 26, 2015

Some Highland Councillors still getting free dinners

A front page spread in the P&J by local journalist Iain Ramage states that a whistle blower has called for a root and branch overhaul of councillors' expenses and monthly publication of their spending. 

"Lochaber member Andrew Baxter made the call after revealing that only 17 of his colleagues had acted on a pledge to voluntarily pay for £4.70 canteen lunches when attending meetings at the local authority's Inverness HQ" 

Another councillor claimed: "There are excellent people out there who would love to be councillors, but they cannot afford to give up their jobs to work for £16,000 a year." More in the Press and Journal today.

UPDATE 15.04 

Cllr Michael Green tells the Gurn: "Just for the avoidance of doubt. I pay for every meal and this is deducted automatically every month."

The Gurn would be delighted to hear from Liz, Laurie and Stephen as to how their lunch arrangements are organised when at Glenurquhart Road.

UPDATE 20.14  

Liz tells us: "I sometimes use the members canteen and I often use the staff canteen which you pay for at the time of purchase. Currently I do not claim travel expenses which would cost the council far more than paying for the dinners. If I begin filling in expenses claim forms then I will happily pay for dinners.

Lot's of councillors do not use the canteen, but sometimes there are time restrictions to get between meetings and it is convenient. I thought councillors talking over an hour on lunches was rediculous, there were far more important items on the agenda yesterday.

I knew of the intention to bring in volunteering to pay for lunch, but I haven't completed an expenses form so haven't seen then new format."

Gurn Comment:

It is just not on that councillors are getting free dinners while many Highlanders 
are having to go to foodbanks for their own food. We published some details of numbers going hungry yesterday and the figures are very depressing

Income is all relative and many people would indeed have trouble living on £16,000 but there are others that would be happy to see their income rise to that level.


Anonymous said...

there,s not a trough big enough for all the greedy hungry councillors,
I work,and I don't get expenses for meals,i take my own.they should do the same...
greedy money grabbing fat cats.

Anonymous said...

Is £16,000 still the amount that our councillors are paid? Not as though it's a full time job either, shameful that the majority are claiming a free lunch, even if they pay the going rate is that still being subsidised by us?

Graisg said...

Hi Anon, the Highland Council is obliged by law to publish the expenses and allowances of Councillors. Some of them get a bit more for their special responsibilities and some claim more expenses than others. You can download a PDF document and have a wee browse by going to this page the Council website here.

D.Ross said...

So Liz stated to you "Currently I do not claim travel expenses which would cost the council far more than paying for the dinners. If I begin filling in expenses claim forms then I will happily pay for dinners."

I think she suffers from memory loss as that Highland Council PDF document listing their 14/15 expenses has the following for Liz;-
Salary = £24,972.00,
Reimbursed mileage = £271.80,
Telephone & mobile = £422.56,
All other expenses = £560.80,
Total salary & expenses = £26,227.16

If that's not claims submitted for expenses & travel I don't know what is.

Oh & by the way according to this site here

She gets paid the same as a retail store manager or a qualified civil engineer.

Graisg said...

We're talking about the current financial year here David, you will notice that Liz uses the word "currently" but thank you for going to the trouble of extracting those details.

Anonymous said...

Let's all go back to the old days when only the great and the good and the wealthy and the aristocracy can afford to be full-time representatives of the people. What about a Nairn House of Lords? Businessmen can scratch other businessmen's backs - and "not claim a single penny" from the public purse.
In fact let's go back to the days when only gentlemen of substance and property had the vote.
It's a damn disgrace those folk getting fed if they are away from their community.
Yours etc
pp E Strobosphere, for
Lord Gnomeronio

Anonymous said...

I'm not a fan of BT but how about councillors use their anytime package if they make a lot of calls? I'm sure there are other deals out there from other companies

Calls to mobiles
6.41p /min
(+17.07p set up fee & rounding)
0845 & 0870 included at
+ £17.99 /mth line rental

D.Ross said...

@ Graisg 8:46pm

Ok then, can we revisit this when the "current" 15/16 expenses list are compiled & made public then to see if she does not claim any expenses for this "current" year then?

Graisg said...

I would imagine the register of expenses will be open to the public once again next year David.

Anonymous said...

Personally I have no problem with councillors claiming expenses to which they are entitled. In fact I think that they should be encouraged to claim all that is allowed under the rules. We need councillors who are effective and not just those who can afford to forego the cost to them of representing us. What I do find irritating though, are those "holier than thou" folk who can't resist telling us how they don't claim part of their entitled expenses.

Nairnite said...

Irritating is one description which has been used and could even be considered in understatement.
I am expected by my employer to provide my own lunch. My employer does however provide adequate heating in the office I work in and does not expect me to put on a jumper to stay warm, in order to save money by turning the temperature of the office down.

Given a choice between stopping giving councillors free meals and heating council offices or schools, or even re-tarmacing their own council car park, I would choose the first.

Once councillors realise that they need to remove themselves from their fat cat position, then maybe Highland residents will take them seriously.

Anonymous said...

Good on you for not claiming travel expenses "Councillor", that kind of brings you into line with 99% of those workers out there who are unable to claim travel to their place of work if outside Nairn.
I'm sure few emloyers pay for the "potted heid" on workers lunchtime peice either.

Anonymous said...

#councillors expenses#
gosh downloaded councillors expenses page and what an eye opener.
I work hard and have to travel. How I wish I could claim expenses. Most people on meagre wages who have to travel lose more money if they have to travel to their job with the cost of fuel it's totally not worth it.