TaxPayers' Alliance announces April’s Pin-Up and Pinhead of the Month

April 27, 2012 11:35 AM


  • Chichester District Council Leader honoured for fully funding pension liabilities, unlike any other local authority in Britain

  • Essex County Council Leader slammed for his attack on Freedom of Information


Today the TaxPayers’ Alliance announces April’s recipients of its monthly awards to celebrate those in power who have sought to do the right – and wrong – thing by the taxpayer.

The man, woman or organisation to be congratulated for saving public money or acting in the interests of the hard-pressed taxpayer is named the TPA’s “Pin-Up of the Month”, whilst whoever is found to have shown the greatest disregard for taxpayers’ cash or their interests is shamed as the TPA’s “Pinhead of the Month”.

April 2012’s Pin-Up of the Month is Cllr Heather Caird, the Leader of Chichester District Council. Earlier this month the TaxPayers’ Alliance revealed a combined pension deficit of £54 billion for local councils across the UK, with the average assets to liabilities ratio equalling only 70 per cent. There was in fact just one local authority whose assets represented 100 per cent of its liabilities and that was Chichester District Council, so we pay tribute here to the sound financial stewardship of Cllr Caird and her colleagues.

Meanwhile, the TPA’s Pinhead of the Month for April is Cllr Peter Martin, the Leader of Essex County Council, who has in the last few days attacked the use of Freedom of Information (FoI) requests by one of his local newspapers. He described the use of FoI requests as “lazy investigative journalism” while misrepresenting the costs of answering them – a number of which have concerned spending decisions made by Cllr Martin himself at County Hall.

The TPA has always believed in maximum transparency about how those in power spend taxpayer’s cash and the ability of campaigners and journalists – or indeed any member of the public – to use FoI requests to get that information must never be constrained. It should be a matter of considerable concern that a senior civic leader is casting aspersions on the value of FoI legislation.


Jonathan Isaby, Political Director of the TaxPayers’ Alliance, commented:
“The TaxPayers’ Alliance has always believed that as well as making examples of those who have shown a disregard for public money, it is important to recognise those who have tried to do the right thing by taxpayers.

“When we published our research comparing the pension assets and liabilities of every UK local council, people were understandably shocked to learn that there remains an overall national deficit of £54 billion. But of those 434 authorities, one local council stood out for being able to equate its liabilities with its assets and that was Chichester District Council. It is therefore right that we should salute Council Leader Heather Caird for the authority’s sound and prudent approach, ensuring that there is at least no black hole in their part of the country.

“Meanwhile, Essex Council Leader Peter Martin’s outburst at the local newspaper which has held him and his colleagues to account for their spending through FoI requests makes him a fitting Pinhead of the Month. The journalists clearly hit a raw nerve when they successfully used FoI requests to expose the hundreds of thousands of pounds of taxpayers’ money that had been spent on booze and lunches at Essex County Council and Cllr Martin’s testy reaction proves it.

“Freedom of Information legislation is arguably one of Tony Blair’s most significant legacies and rather than seeking to rein it back, the likes of Cllr Martin should be exposing themselves to ever closer public scrutiny about how they spend council tax payers’ cash. Bleating about the cost of administering these requests is not a reason to stop processing them; if anything, it bolsters the argument for the automatic online publication of all spending – and at virtually no cost to the taxpayer.”

  • Chichester District Council Leader honoured for fully funding pension liabilities, unlike any other local authority in Britain

  • Essex County Council Leader slammed for his attack on Freedom of Information


Today the TaxPayers’ Alliance announces April’s recipients of its monthly awards to celebrate those in power who have sought to do the right – and wrong – thing by the taxpayer.

The man, woman or organisation to be congratulated for saving public money or acting in the interests of the hard-pressed taxpayer is named the TPA’s “Pin-Up of the Month”, whilst whoever is found to have shown the greatest disregard for taxpayers’ cash or their interests is shamed as the TPA’s “Pinhead of the Month”.

April 2012’s Pin-Up of the Month is Cllr Heather Caird, the Leader of Chichester District Council. Earlier this month the TaxPayers’ Alliance revealed a combined pension deficit of £54 billion for local councils across the UK, with the average assets to liabilities ratio equalling only 70 per cent. There was in fact just one local authority whose assets represented 100 per cent of its liabilities and that was Chichester District Council, so we pay tribute here to the sound financial stewardship of Cllr Caird and her colleagues.

Meanwhile, the TPA’s Pinhead of the Month for April is Cllr Peter Martin, the Leader of Essex County Council, who has in the last few days attacked the use of Freedom of Information (FoI) requests by one of his local newspapers. He described the use of FoI requests as “lazy investigative journalism” while misrepresenting the costs of answering them – a number of which have concerned spending decisions made by Cllr Martin himself at County Hall.

The TPA has always believed in maximum transparency about how those in power spend taxpayer’s cash and the ability of campaigners and journalists – or indeed any member of the public – to use FoI requests to get that information must never be constrained. It should be a matter of considerable concern that a senior civic leader is casting aspersions on the value of FoI legislation.


Jonathan Isaby, Political Director of the TaxPayers’ Alliance, commented:
“The TaxPayers’ Alliance has always believed that as well as making examples of those who have shown a disregard for public money, it is important to recognise those who have tried to do the right thing by taxpayers.

“When we published our research comparing the pension assets and liabilities of every UK local council, people were understandably shocked to learn that there remains an overall national deficit of £54 billion. But of those 434 authorities, one local council stood out for being able to equate its liabilities with its assets and that was Chichester District Council. It is therefore right that we should salute Council Leader Heather Caird for the authority’s sound and prudent approach, ensuring that there is at least no black hole in their part of the country.

“Meanwhile, Essex Council Leader Peter Martin’s outburst at the local newspaper which has held him and his colleagues to account for their spending through FoI requests makes him a fitting Pinhead of the Month. The journalists clearly hit a raw nerve when they successfully used FoI requests to expose the hundreds of thousands of pounds of taxpayers’ money that had been spent on booze and lunches at Essex County Council and Cllr Martin’s testy reaction proves it.

“Freedom of Information legislation is arguably one of Tony Blair’s most significant legacies and rather than seeking to rein it back, the likes of Cllr Martin should be exposing themselves to ever closer public scrutiny about how they spend council tax payers’ cash. Bleating about the cost of administering these requests is not a reason to stop processing them; if anything, it bolsters the argument for the automatic online publication of all spending – and at virtually no cost to the taxpayer.”

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