NYCC Car Allowances – nice work if you can get it!

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NYCC Car Allowances – nice work if you can get it!

NYCC Car Allowances – nice work if you can get it!

– a breakdown of the 40p/mile Car Allowance returns for North Yorkshire County Councillors, by Corruption Buster Tim Thorne.

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North Yorkshire County Council Mileage Allowances

  • Councillors have claimed nearly three quarters of a million miles during the last three financial years.
  • Councillors total mileage claims are 153% higher than their total official meetings mileage during the last 3 years.

Facts & Figures

There are 72 Councillors elected to North Yorkshire County Council.

Of those 72 Councillors, 64 have made a claim for mileage in the last three financial years.

Collectively, over the last three financial years, Councillors have attended 4,166 official meetings at County Hall in Northallerton.

Over the last three years Councillors, have travelled 287,469 miles to attend official meetings at County Hall at a cost of £114,988 to the taxpayer.

But Councillors have actually claimed for 729,546 miles which has cost the taxpayer £288,380 during the last three years.

All members of the County Council are entitled to claim mileage whilst conducting an ‘approved duty’ on County Council business. There is a lengthy list of Approved Duties in Appendix 1 of this document.

Notables

The highest overall claimant for mileage is County Councillor Clara Wood. County Councillor Clara Wood lives 36 miles from County Hall.

County Councillor Clara Wood claimed for 35,070 miles at a cost of £13,263 over the three financial years examined. This is equivalent to more than three trips to County Hall every week. County Councillor Clara Wood sits on the Executive and Ryedale Area Committees.

The highest single mileage claim for 2011/12 was made by County Councillor Clara Wood.

County Councillor Clara Wood claimed for 12,132 miles at a cost of £4,533. This is equivalent to more than three-and-a-quarter trips to County Hall every week. County Councillor Clara Wood sits on the Executive and Ryedale Area Committees.

The highest single mileage claim for 2010/11 was made by County Councillor John Blackie. County Councillor John Blackie lives 36 miles from County Hall.

County Councillor John Blackie claimed for 14,860 miles at a cost of £5,215. This is equivalent to almost four trips to County Hall every week. County Councillor John Blackie sits on the Pension Fund, Employment Appeals, Richmondshire Area and Scrutiny of Health Committees.

The highest single mileage claim for 2009/10 was made by County Councillor John Blackburn. County Councillor John Blackburn lives 52 miles from County Hall.

County Councillor John Blackburn claimed for 12,908 miles at a cost of £4,727. This is equivalent to almost two and a half trips to County Hall every week. County Councillor John Blackburn sits on the Planning and Regulatory Functions, Planning and Regulatory Functions Sub Committee, Appeals, Yorkshire Coast and Moors County Area and Transport, Economy and Environment Overview And Scrutiny committees.

In 2010/11, County Councillor Carl Les claimed for 10,988 miles at a cost of £4,247. County Councillor Carl Les lives 6.5 miles from County Hall. County Councillor Carl Les sits on the Executive, Chief Officers Appointments and Disciplinary and Richmondshire Area committees. This equates to 845 round trips to County Hall within one financial year.

In 2010/11, County Councillor Caroline Patmore claimed for 13,152 miles at a cost of £4,788. County Councillor Caroline Patmore lives 8 miles from County Hall. County Councillor Caroline Patmore sits on the County Committee For Hambleton. This equates to 773 round trips to County Hall within one financial year.

Over the three financial years examined, the top ten claiming Cllrs are as follows:

  1. Cllr Clara Wood: £13,26335,070 miles
  2. Cllr Chris Metcalfe: £11,66829,497 miles
  3. Cllr John Blackburn: £11,31729,383 miles
  4. Cllr John Watson: £11,25828,310 miles
  5. Cllr Carl Les: £10,83628,945 miles
  6. Cllr John Fort: £10,54526,543 miles
  7. Cllr Jim Clark: £10,18725,529 miles
  8. Cllr Caroline Patmore: £9,51324,965 miles
  9. Cllr David Jeffels: £8,77021,925 miles
  10. Cllr Robert Heseltine: £8,64821,620 miles

County Councillor Patrick Mulligan, the husband of Julia Mulligan, the North Yorkshire Police and Crime Commissioner comes in at eleventh.

County Councillor Patrick Mulligan claimed for 20,720 miles at a cost of £8,288. County Councillor Patrick Mulligan sits on the Audit, Pension Fund, Craven Area and Young People Overview and Scrutiny committees.

Sources and Further Information

The mileage spreadsheet contains a list of mileage payments made over the last three financial years. It was gathered from documentation available on the NYCC website. The first four columns of the spreadsheet are self-explanatory. I will give some information on how I’ve constituted the data for the rest of the columns.

E ‘Dist’: This is the distance in miles for a trip from the home address of the Councillor to County Hall in Northallerton and back. The data was acquired from the AA Route Finder. The distance was rounded up to the nearest mile.

G, L & Q ‘Meet’: This is the number of official meetings which the Councillor has attended as part of their duties. The data was acquired from the NYCC website.

H, M & R ‘Miles’: This is the distance each Councillor has covered attending official meetings. The data was acquired by multiplying columns G, L or Q with column E.

I, N & S ‘Claim’: This is the amount of money each Councillor has claimed for mileage. The data was acquired from the NYCC website.

J, O & T ‘Dist’: This is the distance each Councillor has claimed in mileage. If the amount in columns I, N & S was under £4,000, then this figure is multiplied by 0.4 (ie 40p/mile). If the figure is over £4,000, then the first £4,000 equates to 10,000 miles. Above £4,000 the figure is multiplied by 0.25 to give the total distance claimed in mileage.

K, P & U ‘Diff’: This is the difference between total mileage claimed in columns J, O & T and distance covered to attend official meetings in columns G, L & Q.

F ‘Diff’: This is the total difference in mileage over the three financial years. The data was acquired by adding columns K, P & U together.

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Related reading:

http://www.real-whitby.co.uk/nycc-allowancesexpenses-a-flawed-system

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plenty_of_mileage

About the Author:

Website Admin for the Real Whitby Website. All authors of the Real Whitby Website have access to publish on the website. Individual authors will usually sign off their articles with their own names.

23 Comments

  1. Tim Thorne February 24, 2013 at 11:48 pm - Reply
  2. J.G.Harston February 25, 2013 at 1:48 am - Reply

    What are they doing? Moving the milometer on the car forwards? In one job I had to take a note of the milometer reading for milage claims, in my current job my employer works out the shortest route on Google Maps regardless of what route I use.

  3. J.G.Harston February 25, 2013 at 1:52 am - Reply

    “This is equivalent to more than three-and-a-quarter trips to County Hall every week.” etc etc etc

    And…? When I was a councillor I was in the Town Hall on average at least four days a week. Should councillors refuse to do their council duty just to save milage?

    • DKP February 25, 2013 at 8:38 am - Reply

      “When I was a councillor I was in the Town Hall on average at least four days a week.”

      Fifty-two weeks a year? I don’t think so. Look at their attendance records, for heaven’s sake. My Councillor only turned up to 75% of the meetings he was expected to attend.

      They are swinging the (un)lead(ed). Normal people call that theiving.

  4. Frank Chalmers February 25, 2013 at 2:20 am - Reply

    Crooks, crooks, crooks! What more is there to say!?

  5. Brian Dodds February 25, 2013 at 8:48 am - Reply

    To answer JG Harston,s question, no that is not the case, this isn,t about a town council situation. This is about county council busines, and I refuse to accept that it is necessary to travel to county hall so many times every week. The worst case being councillor Carl Les, 845 round trips to county hall in one year, that is more than 2 trips per day, 7 days a week, now please don,t tell me that is in any way justifiable. This is a gold plated opportunity for personal enrichment and by the look of it the cash cow is being well and truly milked, great article Nigel, very informative.

    • Nigel Ward February 25, 2013 at 9:14 am - Reply

      @ Brian Dodds: Just to be clear, Brian, this material was collated by Tim Thorne.

      This comments-section is open to anyone with an email address. If any of the 72 County Councillors feels that the figures provided on the NYCC web-site are incorrect (and show them in a bad light thereby), they are welcome to state their views here.

      Similarly, if any of the 72 County Councillors wishes to assert that every mile claimed is a mile travelled ON COUNCIL BUSINESS (ie OUR business), then they, too, are welcome to use this comments-section.

      My own view is that the electorate ought to look very carefully at these figures before casting a vote that risks returning a fraudster to office.

  6. kathleen parker February 25, 2013 at 10:43 am - Reply

    Am I reading this right? JG Harston mentioned the milometer being put forward then states Cllrs shouldn’t stint in their duties by saving on fuel! Well I think they’re a thieving lot not just because of the miles claimed but surely some of them share cars? They don’t expect anyone to work out how miles they’ve travelled do they? Hard luck Councillors they have! Get out of that one.

  7. Mike Jordan February 26, 2013 at 12:29 pm - Reply

    Hi
    Thank you for the opportunity to respond.
    1. Cllrs reduced the mileage rate from 47.5p to 40p which is 5p less than HMRC recommended level and less than AA suggest are the running costs.
    2. Cllrs also have parish meetings to attend, for me this is easy and I do not claim, some have 16 or more parishes whcih may be up to 30 miles away.
    3. Exec members are expected to go the the districts to discuss items. Democracy costs money.
    4. You could ask those cllrs who slip away at lunch at full council and miss all the afternoon debating if they claim.
    5. You all have the opportunity to stand as cllrs in May. Visit North Yorks website for information on how to do it.

    Regards.

    • Tim Thorne February 26, 2013 at 6:23 pm - Reply

      Mike, you raise some good points. There is much more to the mileage situation than just the figures I’ve cobbled together from the NYCC website. The size of wards and the County has much to do with the high of cost of mileage. I’ve seen smaller counties with less members and a much higher overall mileage, so the County could well be at the higher scale, but with good reason.

      Your fourth point is very interesting. From what you are saying it seems some members just ‘clock in’ and clear off after the free(?) lunch. It is a shame the meeting attendance for those sessions could not be marked as ‘half’ if they’ve only attended half a session. It would give a clearer idea who our most contentious members are. Maybe you should propose it at Council?

      Just one question, which you might not like. Are you aware you receive money from NYCC and SDC for Broadband? I’m presuming you have only one Internet connection at home. It doesn’t seem fair to we taxpayers that we’re giving you two lots of money for one outgoing.

  8. admin February 26, 2013 at 1:21 pm - Reply

    Hi Mike, I would agree fully with your comment. This sort of article sticks in my throat because it points the finger at various individuals without any evidence of wrongdoing. Unless people have hard evidence they could put before a court of law about Fraud then what is the point ? If any one of these individuals is thought to have claimed money for a journey they never took then I would ask for the facts to be sent to NYCC. North Yorkshire is the largest county in England, I would expect its travel costs to be high and I would fully expect that at 40p per mile this allowance will in no way cover the full running costs of a car. Public transport is virtually non existant in some areas of the county so that is out of the question. Maybe you think councilors should run about at their own expense. As altruistic as that would be, its just not possible for many in these times of austerity. I cant quite see the point of this article but Im willing to be told, Im all ears ?

    • Nigel Ward February 26, 2013 at 8:05 pm - Reply

      @ admin:

      As is so often the case, the devil is in the details. County Councillor Clara Wood’s position at the head of the league table in Tim’s article is a function solely of the official NYCC figures. If anyone is “pointing the finger”, as you put it, it is Councillor Wood herself – she filled in the returns. It seems a very high figure for someone who also runs a highly successful art business and for whom Council commitments are therefore part-time. Other County Councillors, with comparable commuting distances and membership of multiple committees (each with its own attendance commitments), have claimed far less.

      As J.G.Hartston rightly points out, it is not necessary to rely on Councillors to submit their own mileage claims, thus putting temptation in their paths. Their attendance records and commuting distances are known to the Council and suffice to work out a genuine Allowance, at the given rate of 40p/mile. Given (as County Councillor Jordan implies) that not all attendances are, in fact, genuine (and, at worst, are merely perfunctory appearances to justify ‘a day at the office’), Tim’s suggestion that ‘half-day attendances’ need to be factored into the equation is perfectly valid.

      Of greater concern, as I mentioned in a recent article, is the business of car-sharing. Our informant suggested that a careful inspection of attendances on the same day and within the same general timescale would reveal which Councillors may have travelled together but claimed separately. I think that the electorate is entitled to know which Councillors are capable of that sort of thing. They may not necessarily wish to re-elect them.

      I am sure County Councillor Jordan would agree with me on that point.

  9. Fred Karno February 26, 2013 at 7:24 pm - Reply

    With regard to the comments from Mike Jordan, whilst he might have a fair point regarding the reduction in rate of allowance, it does beg the question of why the council ever raised the rate to the above the HMRC Approved rate? Presumably the councillors voted for this at some point? Most businesses have continually used the HMRC rate as a fair and justifiable rate for a long time. It is also unfortunate that he chooses to raise the issue of councillors leaving during a full day session without naming names. It leaves a question mark over all councillors- just as he was complaining about the article by Tim doing the same. Having raised it however, it does beg the question as to whether we have councillors doing a House of Lords action -turning up to get an attendance mark and then disappearing.
    As far as the original article is concerned, I do share some of the concerns raised by Mike. Tim now acknowledges that there is much more about the situation than he originally wrote. It would have been much stronger and better if he had acknowledged in the article that councillors might be going to other locations and incurring mileage costs justifiably. Attending conferences is an obvious example, but it appears going to parish meetings could also be an issue. Could a FOI request not be made to get actual expense claims-this would provide a full and true position to allow judgement to be made?
    One point that surprised me about the NYCC expenses document is that there appears to be no official authorisation process. Claims MAY be checked -I wonder how often checks are actually made. Any commercial organisation would have a proper process to verify and authorise claims before they we paid.

    • Tim Thorne February 26, 2013 at 11:55 pm - Reply

      “Tim now acknowledges that there is much more about the situation than he originally wrote.”

      I did point readers towards a list of Approved Duties to which Councillors are entitled to claim mileage. There are large variations in the data, which do merit further inspection. It will be interesting to take a look at that information when/if it becomes available.

      • Fred Karno February 27, 2013 at 1:18 pm - Reply

        Yes Tim, you did point readers to the approved list. I am sure however you know that most readers look at the article and form a judgement without necessarily looking at links. The whole article assumed that all journeys were to and from County Hall, which is a shame as it allows people to point out the flaws and by implication dismiss the whole issue. I feel there is an issue somewhere in here even if it only unnecessary use of cars as opposed to wrongful claims.
        At the very least it has unearthed one councillor to allude to a problem with attendances. I wonder how many councillors are part timers and whether County Hall has a record of whether attendance is for the full session?

  10. Tom Brodrick February 26, 2013 at 7:55 pm - Reply

    Yes,
    I agree with admin on this score. I’ve been self employed for the most part and therefore ran vehicles with a very close eye on running costs.
    If you put yourself in the position of an elected cllr running your own private vehicle, I must admit it must be a little galling seeing wear and tear stack up on your own personal vehicle whilst on council business. As a company persons supplied vehicle the company expects a substantial profit and a percentage of that profit related to the depreciation of the vehicle.
    Upon reading this article I must admit I couldn’t see any fault let alone glaring discrepancies, it all seems about bang on the nail to me and run rather efficiently.
    If people fiddle expenses then fiddling mileage would really stand out a mile……….
    Should anyone claim twice for mileage then be it on their own conscience. Councillor time alone in covering this huge area must be galling in itself, not that it is any excuse to try illegally and dishonestly fiddle a single penny. I certainly wouldn’t drive to county hall, sign in then out, just to claim mileage.

  11. AnarchyUK@hushmail.com February 27, 2013 at 11:16 am - Reply

    As self employed trader my vehicle costs have never exceeded £ 3 k per year. The average for my fellow self employed traders is about the same. Clearly the ‘top ten’ Councillors are running their private vehicles including private use at the expenses of NYCC. That said I don’t think Councillors should be expected to pay privately for ‘travel’ when on NYCC business. Perhaps being a County Councillor is a full time ‘occupation’?

  12. Jack Tailor February 27, 2013 at 11:40 pm - Reply

    Though it is very plain and simple, dodging and manipulating expenses is quite simply THEFT and no matter how its done, ie doubling up in a vehicle and both claiming for mileage is quite simply THEFT and the law should take action.
    It’s down to the Internet and thanks to members of the public who have dedicated their time in exposing thiefs as a result of FOI’s.
    This is the whole point, democracy page by page is now open to scrutiny, as it dam well should be, and those councillors who thought that they deserve more and fiddling was the icing on the cake, an acceptable way of lining their pockets then I’m afraid, thanks to astute members of the pubic and sites like real Whitby, that those days are over, a criminal is a criminal and should be prosecuted as such and brought to justice no matter how petty a councillor their actions havei been.
    It’s quite disturbing the number of people who join the club (namely the Conservative Club) and have absolutely no idea what they are doing, have absolutely no idea , no comprehension of the opportunities missed, no idea of the detrimental affect they are having on whole communities. Councillors really need to ask themselves ‘why am I really standing’? Is it because I know I’ll be elected or is it because I really am the best person, the one who really does understand the real issues within their local community………….

  13. admin February 28, 2013 at 12:20 pm - Reply

    Right I’m still trying to keep track of this and still struggling. Have we hard evidence that every councilor on that list has defrauded NYCC out of money ? If so then I think the article has to be rewritten, clear and concise with details of

    1. Who has broke the law
    2. How & when

    I would add that breaking the law would be to claim for journeys they never took, like claiming for a journey to county hall whilst we have proof they were at home and their vehicle was there. Or they car shared with someone else but both parties claimed the expense. Im sure there are other possibilities too.

    If you can do that then that is fine. But if your simply saying they clocked up a lot of miles and it looks fishy therefore they are guilty, then this is not good enough and to point a finger at someone in this manner is unacceptable to this website, it is very dangerous and could land the author and me as site owner in a lot of trouble.

    If you want to rewrite the article as described, clear concise datails of who did what and when. Then thats fine. If your suggesting someone has done something you have no evidence of then this is not fine and not the way Real Whitby does business and so I will remove the article from the site.

  14. anarchyUK February 28, 2013 at 12:39 pm - Reply

    I think the article is very factual.

    In the run up to the County Elections an analysis of what County Councillors actually do is very important. It seems to me being a County Councillor is for a select few, mainly retired individuals with a few ‘career’ Councillors who rely on remuneration as their main income.

    It is about time the system was changed. If it is to change for the better than a full analysis needs to be undertaken, highlighting both the highs and lows of the current system.

  15. admin February 28, 2013 at 12:47 pm - Reply

    I fully agree Vanda an article discussing the systems and policies would be excellent and if we could engage councilors and would be councilors on how they would change any system seen to be failing or not operating in the interests of everyone, then that would be great too. Whereas an article that indirectly suggests people have done wrong with no proof is not acceptable and needs to go, unless of course we can outline clearly who has done wrong, how, when and where, in which case that’s a story that needs telling so we can insist on a prosecution and make sure the electorate know who not to vote for next time.

  16. Tim Thorne February 28, 2013 at 6:30 pm - Reply

    “Have we hard evidence that every councilor on that list has defrauded NYCC out of money ?”

    The list in the article is top ten mileage claimers. Nowhere do I intimate they have broken the law. I do feel there are too many unnecessary journeys taken, so I’ve FOI’d County Hall for more details. First comment if you look. If you can sort the spreadsheet you will see some large variations between Councillors. It will be interesting to see which Councillors are working hardest on our behalf.

  17. rod mathers February 28, 2013 at 7:42 pm - Reply

    I would say it was a very fair and balanced article, the spreadsheet is very thorough. What stands out is the wide variation in claims. That begs some explanation. The comments from the Councillor make it very clear that abuses do take place. Mr Thorne has posted his FOI request and I for one will be asking some questions of my own. The sham attendance figures should be widely publicised before the election. I see this article as a work in progress. More power to Mr Thorne. The voters need him.

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