Bristol's new mayor pledges to look after taxpayers' money

December 06, 2012 8:40 AM

Bristol's newly elected mayor, George Ferguson, is to be congratulated for emphasising the importance of saving taxpayers' money. In an election which showed a local distaste for traditional political parties, the independent Ferguson was the runaway winner.

Before the election, a panel of local government bureaucrats had decided that this new mayor should be paid £65,738—the same as an MP—but Ferguson has rejected this, settling on £52,474, the same as the council leader received before this post was abolished.

On top of this he plans to stay in the same office as the former council leader used and promises not to waste taxpayers' money on employing a large entourage of support staff.

'I have agreed to take my salary in Bristol Pounds,' he says, referring to a local business initiative, 'which means that every penny of my wages will be spent in local shops, bars and restaurants, employing local people, not in multiple-national chain stores which take all their profits out of the city'—or, indeed, out of the country.

Mayor Ferguson will oversee a cabinet of three other members—councillors who are each entitled to an extra allowance of £20,065—but as the petulant local Labour Party, coming second in the election,  has refused to allow any of its members to serve on his cabinet, this could save him up to £60,000.

'You are far more likely to see me on foot, on my bike, or in my own personal little electric- powered Smart car,' says Ferguson, pushing his angelic credentials possibly a little too far, but he does sound reassuring when it comes to spending taxpayers' money on business travel.

'When I go to London by train to persuade ministers to give more to Bristol, I travel second-class, off-peak where possible, and save the city money by using my senior rail-card,' he explains. 'When I stayed over in London for the night last week to cram in more meetings, I stayed at my daughter's home, rather than run up a hotel bill. For a day and a half in London, cramming in nine meetings, I cost a grand total of £75.'

'I am serious when I say that I will look after taxpayers' money as carefully as we all look after our own,' he pledges. Let's hope that applies to curbing public expenditure on some of Bristol City Council's grandiose transport projects that have cost millions in the past and to little effect...Bristol's newly elected mayor, George Ferguson, is to be congratulated for emphasising the importance of saving taxpayers' money. In an election which showed a local distaste for traditional political parties, the independent Ferguson was the runaway winner.

Before the election, a panel of local government bureaucrats had decided that this new mayor should be paid £65,738—the same as an MP—but Ferguson has rejected this, settling on £52,474, the same as the council leader received before this post was abolished.

On top of this he plans to stay in the same office as the former council leader used and promises not to waste taxpayers' money on employing a large entourage of support staff.

'I have agreed to take my salary in Bristol Pounds,' he says, referring to a local business initiative, 'which means that every penny of my wages will be spent in local shops, bars and restaurants, employing local people, not in multiple-national chain stores which take all their profits out of the city'—or, indeed, out of the country.

Mayor Ferguson will oversee a cabinet of three other members—councillors who are each entitled to an extra allowance of £20,065—but as the petulant local Labour Party, coming second in the election,  has refused to allow any of its members to serve on his cabinet, this could save him up to £60,000.

'You are far more likely to see me on foot, on my bike, or in my own personal little electric- powered Smart car,' says Ferguson, pushing his angelic credentials possibly a little too far, but he does sound reassuring when it comes to spending taxpayers' money on business travel.

'When I go to London by train to persuade ministers to give more to Bristol, I travel second-class, off-peak where possible, and save the city money by using my senior rail-card,' he explains. 'When I stayed over in London for the night last week to cram in more meetings, I stayed at my daughter's home, rather than run up a hotel bill. For a day and a half in London, cramming in nine meetings, I cost a grand total of £75.'

'I am serious when I say that I will look after taxpayers' money as carefully as we all look after our own,' he pledges. Let's hope that applies to curbing public expenditure on some of Bristol City Council's grandiose transport projects that have cost millions in the past and to little effect...

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