Travel and subsidence…?

problems subsidenceHedge End’s Town Councillors have voted to allow themselves to claim Travel and Subsistence expenses on official business that is conducted outside of the Town boundaries.

Facing the unenviable task of having to vote on this recommendation in times of austerity and with public opinion still less than charitable sometimes, following the MP’s expenses scandal of 2009,  Hedge End’s Town Councillors were asked to consider the following motion at their Full Council meeting of 18th January;

That the Town Council recommends payment of a travel and subsidence allowance for Councillors for approved duties outside the formal parish boundary only, payable at the rate set by the Town Council or varies from time to time in accordance with current legislation and an agreed expenses policy.

Much hilarity ensued when it was noticed that the word subsidence had been printed in the agenda, instead of subsistence.

Cllr Day also suggested that the word “allowance” should be replaced by “expenses”, which was duly agreed.  The word “allowance”, in Local Government circles, refers to remuneration but this motion was about travelling costs and the occasional cup of tea and a bun…

Hedge Ends Town Councillors do not receive an allowance for their work on the council. Some members of the public gallery was surprised to learn that Councillors haven’t previously been able to claim Travel & Subsistence costs either.

Cllr Keith House, leader of Eastleigh Borough Council said;

“We want Councillors to attend courses in Eastleigh and learn things, but they shouldn’t be out of pocket.”

“The  Town Council will pay these expenses, which are intended to cover the bus-fare to Eastleigh or the mileage travelled by car. ”

“This system will be fully transparent, with all claims published at the end of the year. The total claimed by each Councillor will be published. If nothing has been claimed the total will be zero.”

The motion was carried unanimously

There were however  a couple of points that were not discussed.

The discussion did not consider how this would apply to the Councillors that currently live outside the boundaries of Hedge End.

There was also no mention that the wording of this motion would potentially allow Councillors to claim costs of their trips further afield,  such as the recent trip to Möckmühl in Germany.

The trip to Möckmühl was in response to a formal invitation from the Mayor of Möckmühl, unsolicited and completely out of the blue. Although arguably on Town Council business, considering a twinning proposal that had been put to them by the Mayor of Möckmühl, that particular trip was entirely at the Town Councillor’s own personal expense.

Perhaps it is reasonable for Hedge End’s Town Councillors to be reimbursed for their travel expenses in such circumstances…?

  2 comments for “Travel and subsidence…?

  1. Leonora
    January 20, 2012 at 3:18 pm

    Judging by the less than pro-active bunch of LD councillors we have, I am expecting their expenses to record zero every time.

    • January 20, 2012 at 6:29 pm

      Lol. That’ll be the day.

      Having seen how the Town Councillors (Lib Dem and independent) have retrieved the local Youth Services from the ashes of the cuts imposed by Hampshire County Council, they’ve clearly been very proactive and have delivered a reasonable solution in a fairly short timescale.

      Cllr Louise Bloom claimed at this full council meeting that it is a better solution, as the Town Council will have more control over what is provided locally, re Youth Services. I hate to admit it, but I tend to agree with her.

      I think the best thing that Hedge Enders can do is go along to some of these meetings, sit in the public gallery and observe.

      As I illustrated above re Möckmühl, you’ve got to listen for what’s not said as much as what is said, but if you go along to some of these meetings, I think you will start to see the Town Council in a different light.

      The problem in Hedge End I think is the dynamics of these meetings, which are almost exclusively Lib Dem. More opposition is needed sometimes, to probe/challenge and put the counter argument. That just didn’t happen with the local plan.

      As for the Councillors themselves, my opinion has mellowed. They’re all OK. There are a couple of stars actually, people who would be decent Parliamentary candidates when Chris Huhne eventually steps down, but I won’t say who…!

      Overall then, I don’t begrudge our Town Councillors a cup of tea and a bun…!

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