Weekly Waste Watch 82

Champagne bureaucrats

In the lavish expenses news this week:

Met chief spends £15 grand on drinkies- "Andy Hayman, the Metropolitan police anti-terrorism chief, has been questioned over thousands of pounds spent on hotel expenses and drinks for his staff. He has been asked to explain at least £15,000 expenses that included claims for “inordinate amounts” of drinking with colleagues. “Apart from the money, what happens if they are all out drinking when a bomb goes off?” said one Met official. The married father of two has been quizzed about his relationship with Sergeant Heidi Tubby, his former staff officer. Tubby is said to have accompanied him on foreign business trips at public expense." (Sunday Times 25.11.07)

£330 grand for MOD ducking stools and champagne- "DEFENCE officials entrusted with ensuring troops are properly equipped in Iraq and Afghanistan have spent £7,000 to go on a team-building event, featuring hot tubs, ducking stools and celebratory glasses of champagne... the Defence Equipment and Support division has allocated £330,000 for civil servants to go on courses." (Sunday Times 25.11.07)

Regional quangos blow £8m on boonies- "Nine regional development agencies... free-spending habits are revealed in documents obtained under the freedom of information (FOI) act, which show that expenses claims reached £8m (read the documents: click here and here). Eight of the nine development agencies decided it was essential to send a contingent to a property trade fair in Cannes. Seeda took 13 staff to Mipim, a four-day event based in the Palais des Festivals, spending £24,000 on dinner, brunch and other events at the exhibition. Meanwhile, the LDA flew in 14 people, allowing staff to stay at four-star hotels. The South West of England Regional Development Agency spent £61,000 at Mipim and the body promoting the West Midlands held an £8,000 cocktail reception in Cannes. Claer Barrett, managing editor of Property Week magazine, said Mipim was “basically a four-day party” with “loads of lobster and champagne” on yachts. Staff at Yorkshire Forward had an even more glamorous assignment: to mix with Hollywood actors, including Jean-Claude Van Damme, and Bollywood stars such as Preity Zinta and Shilpa Shetty, at the International Indian Film Academy weekend in Dubai in 2006. It cost £20,000 to fly 15 staff, 10 of whom flew business class, to the four-day jamboree." (Sunday Times 25.11.07)

Quango chief spends £50 grand pa on taxis and limos- "THE part-time chairman of the quango that promotes the southeast of England to business spent more than £50,000 on taxis and chauffeur-driven cars last year. James Brathwaite, who chairs the South East England Development Agency (Seeda) on a three days per week contract, spent £51,489 on taxis and “executive cars". (Sunday Times 25.11.07)

Defra books into £310 hotel rooms- "GOVERNMENT officials sent to contain the avian flu outbreak have enjoyed the luxuries of some of Suffolk's most prestigious and expensive hotels it has been revealed. Critics have rounded on the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) for spending thousands of pounds housing staff at The Ickworth, describing the move as a “grotesque extravagance”. Standard double rooms for bed, breakfast and dinner at The Ickworth, near Bury St Edmunds, cost £310." (Evening Star 23.11.07)

£1.4m Home Office art fiasco- "An annual competition would invite members of the public to describe, in 150 words, what it means to be British. The winning entries would be engraved on the pavement outside the Home Office in Westminster. Yet four years after the "artwork" was dreamed up, at a cost so far of more than £18,000... only three stones have so far been engraved, and the words are almost unreadable. No work has been done for the past 12 months.... Funding has come from a £1.4 million budget for artworks in and around the Home Office's £311 million Marsham Street headquarters, which opened in 2005... This is the second art project to run into trouble at the building... a £125,000 deal to buy a six-storey high abstract sculpture by Eva Rothschild collapsed because it was too heavy to hang in the building's atrium." (Sunday Telegraph 25.11.07)

Total for week- £9,795,310
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