Duncan's blog

June 3, 2009

Fife Council publishes councillors’ expenses

Filed under: Politics — duncan @ 4:05 pm
Tags: , , , ,

Fife Council recently published “Councillors expenses for 2008/09” [sic]. Although this is never going to be as exciting as recent revelations about MPs’ expenses, or even MSPs’ expenses, it is maybe still worth analysing a bit. If you download the Excel file of expenses, you’ll see it’s been formatted for print, with the page header repeated about half-way down, presumably where the page break occurs. For some reason, in Open Office, the council logo is reversed.

Anyway, rather than try and read through a spreadsheet of numbers, I’ve tried graphing some of the data.  Please click on the graphs to see each fullsize.

Salary
Since the last local authority elections in 2007, councillors have received a salary and not just expenses. Heads of committees, the provost, etc. receive a higher salary.

Salaries

For some reason Margaret Kennedy received a marginally smaller salary than her colleagues; £15,445.24 instead of £15,785.73.

Travel Expenses
This first graph shows all councillors. You can see the long tail effect, with several councillors claiming zero travel expenses. These travel expenses do not include rail, air or taxi fares. The mileage rate is 40p per mile, reduced from 49.3p.

travel expenses

Unfortunately Google Docs saves the image without all names visible. So this second graph shows just the top 30 names.

Travel Expenses - top 30

Gerald McMullan and Tim Brett clearly have higher claims than anyone else, at least £1000 more than the third highest.

For Councillor McMullan to claim £6993.64 in travel expenses, at 40p per mile, he must have driven 17,484.1 miles in a year. I’ve no idea if that is reasonable. He lives in Crossford, approximately 24 miles from Glenrothes. If we divide 17,484.1 by 48, we get 364.252083. In other words, if he was only doing the return drive from his council ward to the council headquarters, he’d have to make that journey every day for a year to justify his travel expense claim. However he must do lots of other mileage besides, e.g. driving round to various locations in his ward. I’d still be interested to find out more about exactly what mileage he claimed for. For example if we could see his daily mileage claims instead of just an annual total.

ICT Expenses
Only 8 out of 78 councillors claimed any ICT expenses. The spreadsheet says “Communication and IT Costs, Mobile Phone Costs and Provision of Council Cars borne by Fife Council is not generally a cost incurred directly by individual Councillors.” I’m therefore unsure what William Walker managed to claim £670 pounds for. If full receipts were published this would clear things up.

ICT Expenses

Rail / Air / Taxis / Hotels
Less than a third of councillors claimed for this.

Rail / Air / Taxis / Hotels

You would expect the council Leader Peter Grant to have the highest claim, on the assumption he’s representing the council at national and international events. Second highest is Mike Rumney (listed as Robert Rumney on the spreadsheet), with a claim of £1,241.31. Again, without more information, it’s impossible to tell how this money was spent.

Rail / Air / Taxis / Hotels

Total expenses
Again, Google Docs produces an image without all names visible:

Total Expenses

And here’s the top 30 names. Gerry McMullan clearly with the highest expense claims due almost entirely to his high travel expenses.

Total Expenses - top 30

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5 Comments »

  1. […] Would-Be’s from the SNP’s west-coast contingent back to their day jobs. In other council news, Duncan pulls on a thick pair of gloves and rummages through the freshly published expenses frae Fife […]

    Pingback by “I wasted time, now doth time waste me…” - Scottish Roundup — June 7, 2009 @ 2:54 pm | Reply

  2. I’m sure it’s me, but I can’t see Peter Grant listed in travel expenses or do they come under a separate listing because he is the leader?

    Comment by subrosa — June 7, 2009 @ 4:56 pm | Reply

  3. subrosa, Peter Grant’s travel expenses were only £709.69. Due to Google Docs only displaying every few names on the graph with all the expenses, Grant’s name doesn’t display. His travel expenses were also low enough to put him out of the graph which displays all the names of the top 30 claims.

    Comment by duncan — June 7, 2009 @ 5:16 pm | Reply

  4. On the 1st April 2009 I requested copies of personal documents abouy my wife and I that were held by Fife Council.
    After many emails, telephone calls and even a visit to the local Leven office in person I still have not received the requested information (todays date is 24th June 2009).
    I finally gave up being diplomatic and reminded Leven Local Office in writing (I delivered the letter in person) that under the freedom of information act and the data protection act that my wife and I were legally and lawfully entitled to this information. I handed the letter in on Monday 22nd June 2009 and gave the council 10 working days to reply.
    During our struggle to obtain this information I contacted one of our Local councillors Marilyn Whitehead for assistance her reply on the 18 May 2009 read;

    Hi
    Sorry not to get back to you sooner, your email took some time to get through our system.

    I have forward it to Leven and aske that they give me an explanation of what is happening re your request.

    Will come back to you as soon as possible.

    If I do not hear from Carberry House in the next couple of days I will be chasing them.
    regards

    Marilyn

    This changed nothing. The staff at Leven Local office were not phased by Cllr Whitehead’s intervention and told me so over the telephone.
    I contacted Cllr Whitehead again by email and gave her a detailed account of my wife and myself’s current situation and explained to her why it was important we received this information we had requested.
    Her reply took in excess of 10 days to reach us and read;
    Hi
    I am hugely conscious of not having replied to your email.
    I took some time to read it all and then much to my displeasure I have had a long problem with my computer.
    I was off line for 10 days !!

    We had a presentation from the Scottish Social Services Council and I wondered if they could help you with your issues with Kingdom.
    Just google their web site.
    I know that you have had a meeting re housing and we are very short of the kind of accommodation that you would like.

    I am to be away for two weeks but please let me know if there is any movement on your application to go back to Dunfermline.
    sorry again for the delay.
    kind regards
    Marilyn

    I was dismayed and then angry that a salaried Fife Councillor (Paid £15,785 last year and claimed expenses totalling in excess of £2,000) could dismiss a request for help with such a flimsy excuse as my computor was broke. There must be a thousand computer terminal throughout the Fife council empire that she could have accessed. She could have used the postal service. She could even have telephoned us as we gave her our phone number. She only lives 3 miles from us she could have popped in when passing.
    I can fully understand why the local council office at Leven were not phased by her intervention.
    I hope she enjoys her 2 week break and returns refreshed and willing to focus on her duties as a councillor.
    Has anyone out there had similar experiences with Fife Councillors or did we just pick a bad one having a bad day? Let us know!

    Comment by Mr. Edwin Dinsdale — June 24, 2009 @ 8:13 am | Reply

  5. Edwin, you might want to go straight to the Council’s Freedom of Information Officer, Laura Reid, laura.reid@fife.gov.uk, 08451 55 55 55 + Ext 44 41 70

    Comment by duncan — June 27, 2009 @ 8:58 am | Reply


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