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Tuesday, 16 April 2013


Top Tory on a gravy plane
UPDATED: 08:09, 4 July 2011

The impossibly grand-sounding Sir Merrick Cockell has made his first speech as chairman of the Local Government Association.
Cockell, also leader of Tory Kensington & Chelsea Council, said: 'Like me, you will have seen an erosion of our public reputation and the corrosive impact that can have upon the trust people place in us as councillors and councils.'
He's right - not least because the trust has been damaged by the notion that councillors are getting richer at our expense. 
Cockell is paid £54,000 for a three-day week by the government association quango and £65,000 as leader of the council - making him one of the country's best paid councillors on almost £120,000 a year. 
But it's his expenses as a council leader that are even more controversial.
There is the £115,000 Bentley, complete with number plate 'RBKC', which was intended for the 'exclusive use of the mayor'. Freedom of Information requests reveal Cockell claims to use the limo to 'save taxi fares'.
He spent £800,000 of the council's budget creating four 'ceremonial' roles, including a mace-bearer and two assistant mace-bearers, and decking them out in ruffs and silk coats - while other councils across the country are making painful, swingeing cuts.
Then there are his overseas trips. In 2007, he went to New York for a conference, flying Virgin Upper Class and staying in a suite at the plush Sofitel where Dominic Strauss-Kahn, the former IMF chief, recently got into difficulties.

Cockell is paid £54,000 for a three-day week by the Local Government Association quango

He claimed £115 for dinner at the Four Seasons Hotel — but claimed he could not remember the name of his guest and was unable to produce the receipt. He was still reimbursed. In 2008, he went to San Francisco (again in Upper Class) and twice to Boston.
In 2009, he again visited New York, splashing out $380 (£115) on a dinner for two during a conference on the recession and unemployment. Well, I suppose he is keeping hotels and airlines in good business.


  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. The worst thing for these troughers is to be found out. Thank goodness for Freedom Of Information

  3. One thing that needs changing as a matter of urgency is a restriction on maxmimum term of office; I would suggest a maximimum of two terms of office. Clearly it is a complete abuse of the system of democracy for Sir Merrick to remain in the post of leader for a term of fifteen years; hardly democratic and in truth wholly open to abuse. Good opportunity for whoever takesover as leader to be open, fair and transparent.

  4. I am sure he will try to trade his support to the contenders for a Cabinet SRA. After all he has to make up the loss of income and the private sector will hardly be an option for him.

    Who would want to employ him? Answers please to the Dame on a postcard care of Martin Fitzpatrick, Head of Media and Communications at the Town Hall.

  5. Taking into account that the Tories need to improve significantly if they are to have any chance of winning the next election they really cannot continue carrying liaibilities and that is what Sir Merrick developed into. I have no doubt that when Sir Merrick first became involved in politics his intentions were honourable, however money and power corrupts and he is an excellent example of this to all. Sir Merrick should not be employed in the public sector in any capacity or receive any form of public service award as it is not remotely justifed.

  6. A story of stunning abuse of office

  7. Future Leaders and Cabinet members of K&C should take note that scrutiny by the Dame and her informers is now a fact of the political landscape in the Royal Borough.

    Behave and beware

  8. Beware the Dame

  9. Kensington Tory17 April 2013 at 09:12

    This is a truly dreadful litany of abuse. Cockell and those who supported him should be deeply ashamed. Damage to democracy. Damage to the Conservative Party. Damage to the residents of Kensington and Chelsea

  10. The pathetic Labour Councillors should be ashamed too for not doing their job in opposition. What an opportunity they missed!

    As for the Libs.... Enough said

  11. My Mate The Builder17 April 2013 at 09:15

    More of the same is on the way. Just wait and see.

  12. Since the Dame first honoured us with her blog, the atmosphere in Hornton Street has changed considerably. The Town Hall's Moylan style of arrogance has been replaced by attempts to at least appear to act for residents. It's the Dame wot dun it! Long Live the Dame!

  13. Andrew Pierce and the Dame will not let this one go


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