So the leader of WSCC, Louise Goldsmith, thinks the recent challenge to the integrity of the Members’ Travel Expenses Scheme is ‘not a big issue’ (WSCT last week).
Those few words speak volumes! They clearly show how the county council in Chichester judges things in pure monetary terms rather than by any consideration of principle or fairness and also empathy with its staff and residents.
How else can you explain why the council would not, once rumbled, immediately remove the 2p embedded in councillors’ mileage rates for parking/tolls when such expenses are already separately reimbursed?
Also, what is the point of deferral for further consultation with members given that they have already debated this on 18th October 2013, in a full council meeting?
Perhaps this is an implicit ‘admission’ that the original debate was inadequately informed.
Surely the council cannot come up with another ruse to try and hang on to this extremely generous rate of 59.25p per mile, can it?
Remember that all neighbouring county councils (East Sussex, Kent, Surrey, Hampshire etc) adopt the HMRC 45p rate, whilst WSCC volunteers also get 45p and WSCC employees are restricted to just 46.7p.
It was encouraging that the minority party representatives on the Governance Committee spoke against leaving the current inequitable situation in place, describing it as ‘outrageous’ and ‘crackers’.
Unfortunately the ruling party ‘block vote’ had its inevitable (whipped?) way, deferring any decision to ‘correct’ the anomalous situation which was originally introduced on 1st November 2013.
Perhaps there is a logical explanation to this bizarre course of events. Maybe the county council is envious of the success of the Duck House play in the West End and feels that it should stimulate the local economy by providing ‘equivalent’ material for the Chichester Festival Theatre?
Yes, I can now readily envisage its production of a new political farce entitled ‘2p or No 2p’! That really is the question, but one for which WSCC won’t finally provide an answer until full council meets on 11th April 2014.
So, until then county councillors, just carry on filling your boots (or should I say tanks!) at the taxpayers’ expense!
P.S. Actions like this on ‘routine matters’ give little hope that the ‘necessary’ £140m budget cuts will be applied in a principled and considered way, do they?
Cox Green, Rudgwick