Taunton Council throws taxpayers’ money at failing theatre
May 2013 14

A Somerset supporter draws our attention to some extravagant expenditure at Taunton Deane Borough Council. Over the last years, they have spent £450,000 of taxpayers’ money subsidising the failing Brewhouse theatre in Taunton. Two years ago it lost its Art Council funding, but still it continued to employ 20 full time staff and 15 part time staff to manage a 350-seat theatre that rarely sold more than 100 seats at a time.

Despite having nearly half a million pounds of taxpayers’ money poured into its coffers, the Brewhouse theatre finally went into administration four months ago—and if that wasn’t bad enough, the council now wants to spend more taxpayers’ money buying the building. And yet, at the same time as it is dishing out public money to support a failing theatre, it has been less than enthusiastic over plans for a privately-funded theatre to open in the town! Continue Reading

Camden Council and this year’s Town Hall Rich List
May 2013 13

Councillors on Camden Council have disputed the numbers for their council in this year’s Town Hall Rich List, which was compiled using the council’s own accounts. This isn’t unusual: every year a few councils object to the figures and they’re usually mistaken, most frequently because they object to the idea of employer’s pension contributions being included in the total remuneration funded by taxpayers. Employers’ pension contributions should be included because it is part of the financial reward that senior staff get for their work.

Council leader Sarah Hayward repeatedly called the TPA’s spokesman a liar on Channel 5 News, stating that the number should have been 16. Theo Blackwell then blogged that the “actual figure is 16 (or 24 however you count it)”. Hayward then took to Twitter and suggested that the correct number could be 25. They can’t get their story straight. Continue Reading

Corporation Tax progress undone by Business Rates and National Insurance, says Justin King
May 2013 10

Sainsbury’s boss Justin King has criticised unfairness in the tax system, contrasting the bill for high street operators with their online counterparts. The supermarket giant’s chief executive also complained that the benefit from falling rates of Corporation Tax has been wiped out by rises in other taxes:

For every £1 we have benefited from the reduction in corporation tax we have incurred more than £2 of other taxes, in particular business rates and employers’ national insurance. Continue Reading

Revealed: the 2,525 council staff earning more than £100,000
May 2013 10

We are proud to present the seventh Town Hall Rich List, the Who’s Who of senior local government executives which details the job titles, full remuneration and many of the names of all local council employees whose remuneration exceeds £100,000.

Praised in the past by politicians on both sides of the House of Commons, the Town Hall Rich List remains the definitive guide to senior executive pay in local government, making it a vital tool for taxpayers wanting to judge which authorities are delivering the best value for money.

Since the first edition in 2007, the number of senior staff appearing on the Town Hall Rich List has soared. This is the first time that the TPA has reported a drop in the number on remuneration of more than £100,000, largely because of the considerable number of redundancy packages paid out in 2010-11, which increased total remuneration for that year.  The welcome fact that many councils have made their data more accessible and transparent has also had an effect on this figure.

However, executive pay in many town halls across the UK continues to be insulated from economic reality, despite the urgent need to find savings and the fact that many councils claim that they have insufficient cash to fund frontline services.

The key findings of the research are:

  • There were at least 2,525 council employees who received total remuneration in excess of £100,000 in 2011-12, a fall of 11 per cent on the previous year’s 2,839.
  • Despite this, 103 councils increased the number of staff who received remuneration in excess of £100,000 in 2011-12.
  • Birmingham City Council doubled the number of staff who received remuneration in excess of £100,000 in 2011-12 to 24, the biggest increase of any local authority.
  • The figure of 2,525 is almost certainly an underestimate. The opacity of some councils’ accounts makes it impossible to separate teaching staff from council staff. To ensure accuracy, some data which would have shown more council employees receiving £100,000 or more in 2011-12 has been omitted.
  • In 2011-12, there were 636 council employees who received remuneration over £150,000.
  • Of these, 42 council employees received remuneration in excess of £250,000.
  • The council with the most employees in receipt of remuneration over £100,000 in 2011-12 was Camden with 40. There were 38 councils with at least 15employees receiving more than £100,000 in 2011-12.
  • The council employee with the largest remuneration package in the UK in 2011-12 was Katherine Kerswell, the Group Managing Director of Kent County Council, who received £589,165. That total included a considerable redundancy package.
  • The largest remuneration package excluding larger than usual, one-off payments due to redundancy or retirement was received by John Sharkey, Chief Executive of SEC Ltd, a subsidiary 91 per cent owned by Glasgow City Council. He received£314,553.
  • The highest paid council Chief Executive not in receipt of redundancy payments was Derek Myers, Joint Chief Executive of Hammersmith & Fulham andKensington & Chelsea councils, who received £266,911.
  • The largest remuneration package in Wales in 2011-12 was received by Jonathan House, Chief Executive of Cardiff City Council, who received £219,159. The council in Wales with the highest number of employees who received remuneration in excess of £100,000 was Carmarthenshire with 12.
  • The largest remuneration package in Scotland in 2011-12, was received by Linda Hardie, Executive Director of South Lanarkshire Council who received £543,538. The council in Scotland with the highest number of employees who received remuneration in excess of £100,000 was Glasgow with 27.
  • The largest remuneration package in London in 2011-12 was received by R Heaton, Executive Director of Resources at Newham Borough Council, who received £317,137.

Matthew Sinclair, Chief Executive of the TaxPayers’ Alliance, said:

“It is good news that the number of senior council staff making more than £100,000 a year is finally falling, although that may only be because many authorities have finished paying eye-watering redundancy bills.

Sadly, too many local authorities are still increasing the number of highly paid staff on their payroll, some of whom are given hundreds of thousands of pounds in compensation just to move from one public sector job to another. Residents won’t be impressed if their council pleads poverty when it is demanding more and more Council Tax, only then to spend it creating more town hall tycoons.”

Islington Council wastes thousands on 20mph banners
May 2013 09

Islington Council has sparked controversy by spending £38,307, or £339 pounds each, on 113 banners advertising its borough-wide 20mph speed limit. But that’s not the worst of it—they paid way too much for the banners in the first place!

The 20mph banners are placed high up on lampposts on main routes through the borough which are not controlled by TfL, and along which there is already a plethora of 20mph speed limit signs as well as road roundels. It is difficult to see what these signs add, other than another distraction for drivers who will have to take their eyes of the road to read them. The Council claims the signs are ‘essential’ if drivers are to be made properly aware of the new limit, but I cannot think of another instance anywhere in the UK in which the imposition of a speed limit has had to be advertised by anything other than the normal speed limit signs. Continue Reading

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