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Sunday, 29 May 2011

Daily Telegraph wins praise

Hornets friends over at Residents First have applauded the piece in the Telegraph exposing the largesse on council credit cards.
Heidi Blake and colleagues on the Daily Telegraph have just created a bit of history. Their expose of reckless and corrupt council spending has shocked those unaware of the extent of misuse of council credit cards. It's been going on for years: it's neither new or surprising to those of us with a keen interest in local democracy. So why is Secretary of State Pickles huffing and puffing over what the Telegraph team has exposed?He describes it as 'wild spending'. Of course, he is correct but he would have been closer to the truth had he added 'corrupt'. And we should not forget credit cards are tip of the iceberg.But blame for this catastrophic situation lies firmly on the tubby shoulders of Pickles. He has had to rely upon Heidi and team at the D.Tel to do his Department's job.
Were Pickles to be CEO of a large plc suddenly discovering that staff in subsidiary companies were splurging shareholder's funds in this profligate way his position would be in jeopardy.As Secretary of State his duty and responsibility is no different.Merrick Cockell has featured in every national newspaper in connection with his own vast expenses claims.
Cllr Cockell says he is close to Mr Pickles, one thus assumes that closeness means that Mr Pickles must have discussed with Cockell the press comment.It is obviously not the case-the conclusion to be drawn is that Mr Pickles was not unduly worried. Can you imagine the CEO of a holding company reading of the expense excesses of a subsidiary company and ignoring them? Daniel Moylan, whilst Deputy Leader, used his council credit card to entertain various guests, including an ex councillor(twice). When I tried to discover the purpose of these lunches, (where alcohol was served against the rules) I was fobbed off. We hope that he has now handed back his card.
Whether he or Cockell should have ever been allowed to have a card is another issue.Residents First raised the matter initially of the misuse of taxpayer's funds over two years ago. Cockell has done nothing to remedy the situation.
He now plans to take over the LGA picking up c £60k a year in addition to the £70k or so he takes from K&C residents. The LGA tell me that he will be expected to work 3 days a week for his sinecure so it looks like we will be getting just two days a week for our £70k a year- far more than a BP non exec director could expect to earn!Now were Cockell some sort of business genius I could just about rationalise the payment: but he is far from that. We residents are being taken for a ride whilst he goes riding around in the new Council Bentley for another £350 lunch with a guest whose name he has 'forgotten'

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