They launched into GDfB's Councillors,
"Councillors in Barnet are some of the most expensive in the country, claiming more than £15,000 on average each in members' allowances last year... this is a rise of 8.7% on the previous year."(Statler and I reminisced for a few moment about the good old days where men of stature came forward to offer public service for no payment other than the joy of helping out...)
Our eyes then worked their way down the page to Councillor Lynne Hillan's statement in response. We almost choked on our twiglets when reading,
"...in Barnet councillors attend two (council meetings) per week".Dear old Councillor Lynne Hillan should be position to know attendance and workload. She is the paid Chief Whip of the Conservatives and Chairman of the Tories in Chipping Barnet. We just can't see how each Councillor is attending eight meetings a month. Have a quick look here for the evidence.
Waldorf had to perform the heimlich manoeuvre when she went on to talk about the comparison in London,
"The basic allowance is £9,082... this puts Barnet's members' allowances at the fourth lowest".The dislodged twiglet flow across the room. All sounds very fair and reasonable on first reading.
Councillor Hillan seems to have forgotten to mention that Barnet is one of the only Councils that allows Councillors to stack one SRA on top of another. She also seems to omit that three quarters of Barnet Councillors (46 of 63) have an SRA completely breaching the firmly stated position London Councils in October 2006 link (we thank a correspondent for telegraphing this in),
"8. We reiterate that not more than 50% of councillors should receive a Special Responsibility Allowance (SRA) and that only one SRA should be paid to a councillor in respect of duties with the same authority."
The independent London Council's report carried on to expect:
"4. In return for the levels of remuneration which we propose, it is important that councillors account publicly for their activities. This will enable the electorate to make an informed judgement on the performance of their elected representatives in liaising with their constituents and representing their interests within the council..."This does not happen in Barnet. There is nothing on the web site. The GDfB bureaucrats do not even publish attendance records for Councillors which good Councils do. So Councillors, drop us a telegram with your diaries and attendance and we'll publish them here.
And on top of all the above the Conservative Councillors on Barnet Council voted themselves a further rise by scrapping the cap on multiple allowances that had existed.
More scandalously a telegram has reached our veranda that Councillor Hillan herself fought in private and secured to increase her own wages! Barnet's mysterious 'independent' panel had decided,
"Group Whips (Scale 6) - We recommend that these posts remain in their current Scales"yet the Conservatives sneaked in a motion that Councillor Lynne Hillan's job should be paid more. That she should be on Scale 5, which is higher paid than Scale 6 (by a good £600 a year). Unfortunately most of the Conservative Councillors who voted for this, we are told, didn't even know what they were voting for as it hadn't been discussed by the Councillors before the Council meeting.
We have emailed Councillor Hillan this post and we await her reply. Apparently she is running the shop whilst both the Leader and the Deputy Leader are abroad on Council business.
Nice work if you can get it.