The Leader of Eastleigh council Keith House, has called for an inquiry into the payment of almost £80,000 worth of bonuses to Hampshire county council staff.
The payments had been authorised by the Conservative leader of Hampshire County council without, it was alleged, the knowledge of other councillors at a time when cuts were being made in payments to other council employees.
Calling for an inquiry into the action of HCC leader Ken Thornber, Liberal Democrat Leader Keith House was reported as saying:
“We need an inquiry into these pay awards and Cllr Thornber’s decisions to ensure transparency and accountability.”
In May the Taxpayers alliance published their annual ‘town hall rich list’ the salary details of council employees earning in excess of £100k a year disclosed as a result of requests made under the Freedom of information act.
Although the majority of councils contacted responded to the information requests, both Eastleigh Borough Council and Hampshire County Council ( Mr House serves as Lib Dem Leader on both) refused to supply any information on the grounds that the right to privacy outweighed the right for the taxpayer to determine whether or not they receiving good value for money.
This is contrary to a ruling from the information commissioner regarding disclosure of public sector remuneration.
Earlier last year Simon Carr, chief reporter at the Daily Echo’s Eastleigh office, revealed how Mr House was Hampshire’s highest paid councillor and how he and his partner – fellow Eastleigh councillor Louise Bloom – earn almost £80,000 between them, paid out of the public purse.
Reacting to the story at the time, Keith House said:
“This is a trivial story; I don’t think the public are interested in councillors’ train fares.”
Oh dear! I ‘m not sure that refusing to disclose the salary of highly paid officials is very ‘transparent’ or ‘accountable’ – what do you think?