Tuesday, 10 July 2012

More County Durham piggies. From a recent print edition of the Northern Echo. Transcribed for posterity.


The Northern Echo: A town council has come under fire for spending thousands of pounds of taxpayers’ money on travel expenses.

Spennymoor Town Council has spent almost £100,000 in less than a decade and members usually opt to ride first class on train journeys.

Last year’s bill came to £15,931.73 for councillors and £605.70 for staff, from an overall council budget of £1.2m.

Town clerk Pauline Waterson said: “The expenses claimed are in accordance with the published members’ allowance and travel subsistence schemes. First-class travel is permitted.”

The figures were revealed following a Freedom of Information request by Jim Tague, a Conservative Party member from Bishop Auckland.

He said: “I wanted to see, after the situation with MPs’ expenses was revealed, what was happening at grassroots.

“It is perfectly sensible for councillors and staff to attend seminars and training, but claiming within the guidelines is not an explanation, the world has changed so it is time the guidelines did.

“Anyone spending public money should consider what is really the best value for taxpayers who all have to tighten their belts.”

Much of last year’s spend was first-class rail journeys to London by leader Coun Ian Harrington for National Assocation of Local Councils (NALC) meetings. He is vice-chairman of its larger local councils’ committee.

Mrs Waterson said: “Coun Harrington is authorised by the council to attend and has not claimed a penny over that to which he is entitled.”

Coun Harrington said: “The meetings I attend allow me to put the case for not just my town council but those across the region, to make sure our specific problems and needs are heralded.”


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