NYCC IT/Broadband Allowances abuse

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NYCC IT/Broadband Allowances abuse

North Yorkshire County Council IT/Broadband Allowances abuse

a Tim Thorne round-up of the continuing County-wide abuse of the various Broadband Allowances Schemes through which over half of our County Councillors continue to profiteer from accepting generous Allowances from two Councils for one and the same internet connection.

Coming soon: Car Allowance abuses, County-wide.

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  • Despite repeated calls to reform the system nearly £32,000 per annum is being overpaid to Councillors across North Yorkshire in the form of an IT / Broadband Allowance.
  • Over the last four years around £125,000 has been overpaid to Councillors across North Yorkshire.
  • Despite Senior County Council Officers being aware of the problem, the status quo where public funds are misused and wasted continues unabated.
  • The North Yorkshire County Council Monitoring Officer states that ‘members are entitled to allowances’. The question of whether they are morally entitled to the allowance is ignored.

Facts & Figures

There are 72 Councillors elected to North Yorkshire County Council.

Out of those 72 Councillors, 49 also sit on Tier-2 District or Borough Councils.

Out of those 49 Councillors, 37 receive an IT / Broadband Allowance from both North Yorkshire County Council and their local Tier-2 Council.

75% of Councillors who are able to receive an IT / Broadband allowance from both of the Councils they are elected to, elect to receive two IT / Broadband allowances.

Of the 37 Councillors who are receiving two IT / Broadband allowances;

  • 20 are Conservative,
  • 9 are Independent,
  • 7 are Lib Dems
  • 1 is Liberal.

The 37 North Yorkshire County Councillors who have received two Broadband Allowances sit on the following local authorities;

10 sit on Scarborough Borough Council;

9 sit on Harrogate Borough Council;

7 sit on Hambleton District Council;

5 sit on Craven District Council;

5 sit on Selby District Council;

1 sits on Richmondshire District Council;

Problem

A sizable proportion of Councillors in North Yorkshire are milking the system and profiteering at the public’s expense. Whether they have done so intentionally or unintentionally is unknown, but most have attended the relevant meetings so they should be aware they receive money from both NYCC and their local Tier 2 Borough or District Council for their Broadband.

Council Officers who were investigating previous complaints about double payments at North Yorkshire County and Scarborough Borough Councils did not do so independently. The Officers produced one-sided reports and passed those to the Standards Committees.

Sources and Further Information

This downloadable spreadsheet contains a list of payments made over the last four years. They were gathered from FOI requests and documentation available on the respective Authority websites. All payments listed in BOLD denote two payments in a single calendar year.

  • Craven District Council currently give their Councillors a yearly IT Allowance of £400 to cover the cost of Broadband and IT equipment such as a laptop, printer and network hardware. Up until the end of financial year 2009/10 the IT Allowance used to be a separate element of £600, but Councillors voted to roll the IT Allowance into the Basic Allowance effectively cutting the cost of the IT allowance by £200 to the current level of £400. I’ve apportioned nearly half of the IT Allowance, £180, towards the cost of Broadband.
  • Hambleton District Council do not give their Councillors a Broadband Allowance. They expect that elected members already have Broadband, but, if not, they will arrange for Broadband to be installed at the Councillor’s home address and the Council will pick up the cost of the installation and the monthly fee. The average cost per elected member is £403.08 per annum. Currently, 18 of the 44 elected members receive Broadband paid for by Hambleton District Council. HDC will not divulge the identity of those Cllrs and claim the information is sensitive under the Data Protection Act.  The nine Hambleton District Councillors who also sit on NYCC were asked if they are in receipt of one of the Broadband connections. The nine Cllrs were emailed twice, to their official email addresses at both Councils, asking the question. Four responses were received. Two Cllrs said they are not in receipt of a Broadband connection paid for by HDC. Two Cllrs were evasive and would not answer the question. The other five Cllrs have not responded to any of the emails. It is assumed the seven Cllrs who will not answer the question are in receipt of one of the HDC-funded Broadband connections.
  • Harrogate Borough Council currently give Councillors a yearly Allowance of roughly £255 to cover the cost of Broadband. North Yorkshire County Council currently give their Councillors a yearly allowance of £501.23 to cover the cost of Broadband. Up until the end of financial year 2009/10 the allowance used to be a separate element. In Dec 2008 Councillors discussed whether to roll the IT/Broadband Allowance into their Basic Allowance. In December 2009, they elected to roll the IT/Broadband Allowance into their Basic Allowance, which increased proportionately.
  • Richmondshire District Council currently give Councillors a yearly allowance of £180 to cover the cost of Broadband.
  • Ryedale District Council do not give their Councillors a Broadband Allowance. They expect that elected members already have Broadband, but if not they expect the Councillors to pay for Broadband out of their Basic Allowance.
  • Scarborough Borough Council gave their Councillors a yearly allowance of £255 for many years. In 2012/13 they gave their elected members iPads and the Council now directly picks up the bill for 3G connectivity.
  • Selby District Council currently give their Councillors three different amounts for Broadband depending on their circumstances. If the Councillor uses their own PC they receive a £330 yearly allowance with £180 earmarked towards Broadband. If the elected member uses a Selby District Council PC they receive a £180 yearly allowance for Broadband. If the Councillor uses North Yorkshire County Council equipment they receive a £50 yearly allowance for consumables only.

Conclusion

NYCC should remove the £501 IT / Broadband Allowance from the £8,994 Councillor Basic Allowance, then implement a system which pays an IT / Broadband Allowance to elected members who do not receive a similar allowance from any other bodies they are elected to.

Nationally, Standards Committees should be reconstituted with independent members of the public and they should sit in judgment on how Councillors have acted.

The system where Councillors sit on Standards Committees and sit in judgment on fellow Councillors and party members without any independent scrutiny is unfit for purpose and is being abused.

Standards Committees should be reconstituted with independent members of the public and an independent panel should sit to decide on if the Councillors allowance schemes are appropriate, true and fair.

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Related Reading:

County Council Collusion Cover Ups and Coincidences

Duplicitous, Devious & Dumb Douple-Dipping Denials

Cllrs Money For Nothing Is An Entitlement – Official

Double-dipping double-talk – a ‘frank and honest’ statement

Double-Dippers Make Private Eye

39_double_dippers

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12 Comments

  1. Stakesby Legs February 17, 2013 at 7:47 pm - Reply

    So let me see if I got this straight.

    When I vote for a County Council election candidate, there’s about a 50% chance I’ll end up with a self-serving trougher.

    When I vote for a County Council election candidate who is already a Borough or District Councillor, there’s about a 75% chance I’ll end up with a self-serving trougher.

    Well, that tells me who to avoid! What a shower!!!

    Keep showing them up, mr Thorn.

  2. kathleen parker February 17, 2013 at 8:15 pm - Reply

    Of course they know they are in the wrong,when they elected the allowance to be part of their basic allowance they hoped no1 would notice! Nowt but a bunch of thieves,out for themselves and we pick up the tab and how much more are they getting away with?I dread to think.

  3. Ian Detute February 17, 2013 at 8:24 pm - Reply

    This is a crime no matter how its dressed.Those voted in to a position of trust are the untrustable ones.Thanx TT once again they are no better than CRIMINALS theiving scum

  4. Nigel Ward February 17, 2013 at 8:37 pm - Reply

    TIM HICKS has asked me to post the following message to TIM THORNE, om his behalf:

    Dear Tim,

    NORTH YORKSHIRE DOUBLE DIPPERS

    Good article, showing all of the meticulous research and attention to detail we have come to expect of you. It is devastating.

    However, please do not forget that NYCC County Councillor Jane KENYON, (SBC Conservative Councillor, Portfolio-Holder for Finance, Procurement & Legal and Chair of the former North Yorkshire Police Authority (NYPA)), received an expense/allowance from NYCC and NYPA, but additionally charged the cost of a mobile telephone she was not entitled to have, plus the calls made on it to NYPA, notwithstanding the fact that her telephonic expenses were already reimbursed by the NYCC Allowance Scheme.

    This means that if NYPA is added in, 38 NYCC Councillors who also sit on another local government organisation elect to receive two sets of IT expenditure.

    The implication being (subject to an explanation from the above mentioned worthies) that 53% of Councillors in North Yorkshire fiddle their expenses (to quote Private Eye):http://www.real-whitby.co.uk/yorkshire-councils-pipped-for-national-award

    We should also not forget married couples. Specifically SBC Conservative Councillors Derek & Lynne BASTIMAN, Councillor Tom FOX and his wife former Councillor Ros FOX who, despite each couple living in the same house and sharing the same single broadband connection, claimed two Broadband Allowances from SBC.

    I wonder what the figure is for funds being siphoned out of the public purse and into the back pockets of Councillors nationwide?

    Well done on your indefatigable approach. I hope these people will consider their consciences and repay the money.

    Tim

    • AnarchyUK February 18, 2013 at 5:32 pm - Reply

      “It is devastating” really? please do tell us why Mr Hicks?

      • sarraceniac February 18, 2013 at 5:53 pm - Reply

        It’s devastating to me. I’m a pensioner who has to watch every penny I spend. However I am also a tax payer who doesn’t see why he should pay over the top for jobs that people used to do for love of their communities. It is now just people standing for office to see what they can make. Maybe you are right, maybe it isn’t devastating, maybe it is just disgusting that they stand for office and the voters actually elect them. Maybe, as an anarchist, you don’t quite understand the system. P.S. I’ll join the anarchists as long as I can be chief anarch (with expenses).

      • Stakesby Legs February 18, 2013 at 9:46 pm - Reply

        “Good article, showing all of the meticulous research and attention to detail we have come to expect of you. It is devastating.”

        I think he means that the case is made – game, set and match. In other words, I think it means what it says. Is that so difficult?

  5. Longbones February 17, 2013 at 9:17 pm - Reply

    Strong words of condemnation indeed, and STILL no one takes issue with this. Where are our defenders of the Law? Once again the Law and the poor Charge Payer is ignored. WHAT does it take for this situation to be resolved? You can bet that if the son of a fisherman or a bricklayer had his hand in the till that the Old Bill would be going mob handed for him.

    Nice to see that the Conservative Group are keeping up the age old tradition of “Free Enterprise”, where would this country be without them?

    Maybe soon we will find out.

  6. Frank Chalmers February 17, 2013 at 11:12 pm - Reply

    Bloody crooks the lot of them.

    I’ve just had a quick look on the web.

    Plusnet (and there are lots of other people doing broadband) give unlimited broadband, and unlimited calls for a total charge of £287.76 a year.

    With BT the same sort of package is just £321 a year.

    That means that the idea of having £500 a year for broadband from some councils is just nonsense! They are able to pocket £200 a year.

    They must be laughing all the way to the bank. Thieves. The lot of them.

  7. RaySpalding March 24, 2013 at 11:31 pm - Reply

    Another example of a vote for Con Dem if you want to condemn your future to lining the pockets of overpaid Councillors. You can of course vote for a party which wants to cuts the already overgenerous payments to Councillors who ought to be pleased to do the job for nothing and only receive expenses actually incurred on receipt of certified billsAsk your candidate at the upcoming elections if this is their policy and vote for them if you want to stop this farce

  8. Colin Brittain April 24, 2013 at 11:05 am - Reply

    Wow, what can I say, this whole saga is deplorable and fraudulent at best!

    I am with Plusnet and am charged a flat rate fee of £9.99 per month for an unlimited service. Just where on earth do they have the balls to list broadband expenses of such high amounts. When we are faced with ever increasing bills and ridiculous schemes like the ‘bedroom tax’ yet these councillors continue to live off our money?

    All too often we find cases of elected people screwing the system for every penny they can, what makes it worse is that despite it appearing on the internet nothing is done to investigate it.

    Those guilty parties ought to hang their heads in shame. I couldn’t over inflate expenses to that amount and still stand as an elected figure. A resignation isn’t the answer, a legal investigation leading to CHARGES AGAINST THEM is far more appropriate.

    The truth is however, that nothing will come of it, just like the Jane Kenyon affair!!!

  9. www.kennysang.org July 12, 2015 at 10:30 am - Reply

    NYCC IT/Broadband Allowances abuse – Whitby | Tourism | Things
    To Do | North Yorkshire is an excellent piece of writing, I’m showing my close friends.

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