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Bonkers Blog May 2013

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17 May - It’s so easy to be open and transparent, but Bexley council cannot manage it

AllowancesNext week will see the annual shuffling of the deckchairs at Bexley council. Councillors who have done nothing to upset Teresa O’Neill might find themselves in the cabinet or be given one of the consolation prizes of chairman of a scrutiny committee. Any cabinet members with a mind of their own are shown the door but with councillors Windle, Catterall and June Slaughter already ejected there may be none left to go this year. (What are the odds on Craske being readmitted to the fold?)

On top of the figures shown in the table, every councillor, even those who have gone all year without opening their mouths, is given £9,418.

If previous years are anything to go by the occupants of the new positions will not be immediately apparent. My annual chore is the revision of the councillor list and whilst the monetary allowances are not hard to find, who the lucky recipients are is not so obvious. Last year I had to keep an eye on Agendas of meetings to see whose name appeared as chairman in order to belatedly make amendments to the previous year’s councillor list.

A council that is naturally transparent would add all the relevant information to its own councillor list published on the web, not leave it to a local blog to be the only place where all the information is available in one place.

Dartford council has the data on its website and publishes it in local newspapers too. Being honest and open is not rocket science but maybe Bexley is concerned that residents might notice that their councillors’ basic allowance is almost exactly twice as high as in Dartford. Dartford has only 45 councillors compared to Bexley’s 63 but given the generally lower special responsibility allowances the total expenditure on councillors is only a third of that in Bexley.

In approximate terms a councillor’s minimum earnings for an hour or two a week is the same as one of Bexley’s agency care workers doing 70 hours a week; and if you are tempted to get your calculator out, remember some are under 18 years old and none are paid for travelling time between jobs or reimbursed their expenses.

Allowances

Scroll (or click) image above for Dartford’s list of Special Responsibility Allowances and who benefits from them. Some councils are happy to let residents know what goes on behind the scenes. Not Bexley obviously.

 

 

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