As recently as Sunday we reported how Labour-run Nottingham was holding out as the only council in England to keep its spending secret.
Another Labour-run local authority is now in trouble, this time for trying to keep its massive spending on members allowances under wraps. The authority concerned is the Merseyside Integrated Transport Authority (MITA), chaired by one of the country’s best remunerated councillors, Mark Dowd.
MITA and Cllr Dowd were criticised in last weekend’s Sunday Express for what was described as “a culture of free spending”.
According to the BBC they are the only local authority in the country where councillors still set their own allowances.
Now Cllr Simon Shaw, a member of Sefton Council, one of the five Merseyside councils covered by MITA, has complained that Labour-run MITA is in breach of the law in failing to publicise the pay and expenses of its members.
He points out that the "Local Authorities (Members' Allowances) (England) Regulations 2003" (Section 15.3) says :
"As soon as reasonably practicable after the end of a year to which the scheme relates, an authority shall make arrangements for the publication within the authority's area of the total sum paid by it in the year under the scheme to each recipient in respect of each of the following: basic allowance; special responsibility allowance; …… travelling and subsistence allowance; ……"
Cllr Shaw says:
“We are now nearly four months on from the end of the financial year. The law says that information on allowances and expenses must be publicised ‘as soon as reasonably practicable’ after the year end, not when it suits the controlling Labour Party.”
“These details should have been placed on the Authority’s website months ago. As of last weekend they still aren’t there”
“It seems that a cover-up is taking place. Clearly Labour are embarrassed about the press storm that has developed locally in recent weeks over the obscene level of pay and expenses that the Authority’s controlling Group have decided to pay themselves.”
Although the public are still not allowed to know this, we are able to confirm that Cllr. Dowd received a total of £62,346 in the year to March 2011. That was comprised of £47,665 in pay from MITA, £8,970 in pay from Sefton Council and £5,711 in expenses from MITA.
Cllr Shaw adds:
“That’s actually more than most local Primary School headteachers earn. Nice work if you can get it! Although I suppose it does help if you can decide your own level of pay.”