Monday, 28 December 2009

Taxpayers to fork out over £10 million in redundancy payments to MPs

Sky News is reporting up to one  in four MPs may quit over the expenses scandal. The bad news for taxpayers is this may result in £10.8 million worth of redundancy payments.

In our area, this means John Prescott will receive  bumper payout, as will maybe hundreds of MPs across the country. Read the story HERE.

How many council snoopers can enter you home?

Big Brother Watch recently sent out Freedom of Information requests to every council in the country to find out how many of their employees have the right to enter your home. For our region, the results are alarming.

According to the Hull Daily/East Riding Mail today, 115 council employees from the East Riding of Yorkshire Council can enter your home using 1043 different powers. In Hull, the picture is better, but there are still 33 employees who can use these powers.

To give some perspective, the national average is 47 officials per local authority. This places Hull below the national average and the East Riding almost two and a half times above the national average.

If anyone needs evidence of how the bully state is entering our lives in ways very few people are aware of, this is it. One of the questions on the lips of many people in the East Riding is why County Hall in Beverley needs to give so many of its officials such sweeping powers. Another question is why parliament has allowed councils to have these powers in the first place. The council’s reply will make interesting reading and all of this needs to be addressed by a future government.

Thursday, 17 December 2009

Thoughts on Hull’s World Cup Bid

The headline in the Hull Daily Mail said  it all today, ‘We Was Robbed!’ The bid to attract World Cup football to Hull has cost somewhere in the region of £125,000, but this is something that doesn’t bother me. If Hull had been included in England’s bid and then England had gone on to host the 2018 tournament, an estimated £64 million worth of investment was likely to come to the city. As they say on National Lottery advertisments, you have to be in it to win it. Hull was in it and why it was passed over for somewhere like Milton Keynes is confusing to say the least.

If  we are to take something positive from this, it is that Hull is rapidly getting a reputation as a player. People from around the country are beginning to see Hull is not a backwater, no-one in their right minds would want to visit. Hull City’s elevation to the premier league has hugely helped with the positive image Hull is projecting and visitors to the city are positive in their feedback.

Hopefully, we will win our bid to become the City of Culture and help raise Hull’s profile more. This – along with lower taxes and less regulation – is the main way investment is going to pour into the city. 

Tuesday, 15 December 2009

ERYC Car Parking Review Panel

Almost 6 months ago I wrote about the car parking charges review panel set-up by the East Riding of Yorkshire Council (ERYC). This has been a long running saga. Some councillors feel it is not fair that people have to pay to park in places like Beverley and Bridlington, but not in other places, such as Cottingham and Anlaby. A lengthy review has taken place, culminating in roadshows in June, gathering residents’ views on whether they want to pay to park their vehicles in car parks that are currently free.

Six months on, and we still await a decision for the parking review panel. A report in the Hull Daily/East Riding Mail today has highlighted how frustrated traders are across the East Riding. They want a decision, which is the least they can expect after such a long time. I wish they had just made a decision, right or wrong. You can always come back and review your decision at a further date. This procrastination and inertia only serves to give the impression ERYC cannot make a decision. Hopefully, a decision will be made early next year, but I am not holding my breath!

Wednesday, 9 December 2009

Hull City Council

The news Hull City Council will not increase residents’ council tax bills next year is very welcome. The Taxpayers’ Alliance has been supportive of the economies the council has made and will encourage it to continue to do the same. The council has proved it is possible to give council taxpayers a good deal by both giving a real terms decrease and increase spending on essential council services. The pressure has now been raised on other local authorities in our region to do the same. 

Tuesday, 1 December 2009

The Big Screen in Hull

Readers who live in the Hull and East Riding area will no doubt be aware of Hull City Council’s decision to ‘pull the plug’ on the Big Screen in the city’s Queen Victoria Square. The news broke last Thursday and the first I heard about it was a call from the Hull Daily Mail. I was then asked if I would do an interview on BBC Radio Humberside last Friday.

The power was switched off today and the story is still rumbling as the former Labour leader of the council, Colin Inglis, entered the fray to defend his decision five years ago to buy the screen at a cost of £650,000. I think some clarification is required.

Cllr Inglis wrote the following on the Hull Daily Mail website earlier today:

For the record, we wanted a screen for the 2004 Olympics when the BBC offered us a deal, which given their then recent multi-million pound investment in Hull (not popular at the HDM, I know) and our desire to keep them sweet, it was hard to refuse. We had a limited window of opportunity to say yes hence the decision route used in the Council's Recess period. The project was meant to be part of a wider refurbishment of Victoria Square, untouched for twenty years, not removing Queen Victoria, or her toilets, which later administrations never finished, as seems so often to be the case in Hull. The money for it had been raised as part of the KC share sale, ie not Council Tax or government grant, it was capital, not revenue funding so could only be spent on building or refurbishing something or buying some large item and had already been earmarked for work in the city centre.

Firstly, I would like to remind Cllr Inglis money raised from the sale of shares of Kingston Communications is still public money and it still needs to be spent wisely. All too often our elected representatives act like children in a candy store with money like this. What he should have done is explore other possibilities. There is an alternative to buying, such as leasing. The location of the screen should have been given great thought. It could have been part of a wider plan of redevelopment. Rushing into a decision, without consulting other councillors, was wrong. A business plan should have been drawn up and advertisers and sponsors found. This is what any responsible leader would have done. Unfortunately, this was not done and the screen has been a controversial addition to the city since its installation.

With thought and planning this project could have been a success. The screen could have been an asset and revenue could have been generated for the council. As it stands, I fully support Hull City Council’s decision to remove the screen and look for a buyer. It would cost £250,000 to keep the screen going for another three years. It would cost £100,000 to remove and screen and place it in a different location. The taxpayers of Hull quite rightly want their money spent wisely and want lower council tax bills and better council services. Spending huge sums of money on a giant television set that hardly anyone looks at and the majority have never wanted, can not be justified. I am not opposed to Hull having a big screen, however, it has to be properly thought through, unlike the decision made behind closed doors in 2004.

Saturday, 21 November 2009

Speaking to East Yorkshire Conservatives

Last night I was the speaker at a supper club meeting of East Yorkshire Conservatives in Bridlington, on the subject of Quangos.   Most people there were genuinely shocked at the amount of money being spent by Quangos and how much our membership of the European Union costs us each year. I quoted the following from Dr Lee Rotherham’s book, Ten Years On: Britain without the European Union.

While you were watching the last Harry Potter, £1,891,998 was transferred to Brussels.

During the England footy match, £1,113,000 left the British bank account for good.

In the time that it took you to boil an egg, £37,098 was surrendered to the EU.

£12,366 in one minute.

£206.11 in the heart pump of a second.

Another £206.11.

And then another.

It made no sense at all. It was like forming a human chain to pass gold bullion down Blackpool pier and to dump a brick off the end every hundred seconds.

Every hour was a new Angel of the North being built by British taxpayers in another country.

The bill for just two days paid for the whole Royal Family.

Three days would have kept your local community hospital running for a year.

Five days of EU membership would have covered all the repairs needed to every cathedral in England, or paid for a new Kew Gardens.

Ten days would have bought a new Belmarsh prison.

Why not just cut out the middle man? Instead of handing over three and a half weeks of net payments, you could have simulated the financial loss by cutting down all the trees in England looked after by the Forestry Commission and ploughing salt into the soil.

For the equivalent value effect of five months of fees, you could have just burned every picture and every painting in the National Gallery. Or the Treasury could have taken revenge on international bankers, and paid the annual deficit by just handing over all the revenue of the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man.

Food for thought? The statistics are breathtaking when stated in a way we can all relate to. I would like to thank East Yorkshire Conservatives for their very warm welcome and excellent hospitality. I had a very enjoyable time in Bridlington and look forward to returning.

Tuesday, 17 November 2009

Dr Lee Rotherham in conversation

Dr Lee Rotherham, author of 'Ten Years On: Britain without the European Union' discusses the ideas in his book.

Monday, 16 November 2009

New TPA advertisement coming to a cinema near you

Below you can see an advertisement that will be showing in cinemas the length and breadth of the country. It promotes the book, 'Ten Years On: Britain without the European Union' and enables the TPA to reach out to a much wider audience.

In a light hearted way, it gets the message across just how much the EU costs British taxpayers and British businesses. Tell me what you think.

Sunday, 1 November 2009

Complaint against Diana Johnson MP - Update

I informed you in September that I have reported Diana Johnson MP to the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards. Read more HERE.

The commissioner has decided to investigate further with reference to Ms Johnson using a House of Commons franked envelope for what appears to be party political purposes. I will report again when I hear from him.

Sunday, 25 October 2009

Bridlington Renaissance Partnership

On the Politics Show today in Yorkshire and Lincolnshire, one of the topics for discussion were Quangos. I recorded a piece on Wednesday and had a 30 second slot on the programme.

In the studio, one of the guests was Martyn Coltman, from the Bridlington Renaissance Partnership. If only I can have a ten-minute slot with him on either television or radio. If you want a prime example of how not to use public money, then take a look at Bridlington.

Grandiose schemes abound such as planting trees that won't grow. Spending £100K on welcome signs. Spending £6.5 million on paving around the Spa Complex with an amazing half a million pounds being swallowed up in consultants fees. They are just three of a catalogue of examples of how public money is being wasted by a largely unaccountable body supposedly regenerating the seaside town.

I'm not saying public money should not be spent in Bridlington, but it should be given to the council who can then allocate it to projects it feels are worthy. If the public disagrees then they can always show their dissatisfaction at the ballot box. This way there is accountability.

What Quangocrats like Mr Coltman fail to realise is the only way to get business booming is to lower taxes and reduce regulation. High taxes and increased regulation are the main drivers against economic success. Their disincentivising effects can been seen throughout the country.

Meanwhile Quangos continue to dole out public money in the hope trade will be increased by grandiose projects. They may have some effect, but they will never be the solution. Successful economies are low tax and low regulation economies and when public money is being spent, the public have a right to hold those responsible to account. It's called democracy. In Quango-run Britain, this is something sorely lacking.

Thursday, 22 October 2009

What's a QUANGO?

That's the question I have been asked all day. It surprised me how many people had not heard of these unaccountable bodies that drink taxpayers' cash. They can spend our money - acting on behalf of the government - at will, with virtually no accountability. I want to focus on Regional Development Agencies, and Yorkshire Forward in particular. The TPA has an excellent report on these agencies. To read it click HERE. You may be surprised at the scale of their failure.

Saturday, 19 September 2009

Complaint against Diana Johnson, MP for Hull North

Every Member of Parliament receives £10,000 of public money in the form of a communications allowance. It is basically used by MPs to inform their constituents of how wonderful they are and what a great job they are doing. Naturally, the Taxpayers' Alliance is opposed to this allowance.

Diana Johnson, MP for Hull North, recently used this allowance to issue a traffic and transport survey to residents in Kingswood. As she is not informing us of her work and is trying to gather information to help her in her general election fight, this survey should have been paid for by Hull North Constituency Labour Party.

I have therefore written to John Lyon, Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards, as a private individual and constituent of Ms Johnson, and have asked him to investigate the matter. I will post his response here when I receive it. I have also written a letter to the Hull Daily Mail to inform readers of the newspaper of my actions.

Monday, 14 September 2009

Taxpayers' Alliance proves how we have all been fleeced by Gordon Brown

Taxpayers' Alliance research has revealed Gordon Brown's disastrous mishandling of the economy has cost £3 trillion. This works out at £50,000 for every man, woman and child in Britain. To find out more, click HERE, and to order the book 'Fleeced', click HERE.

Sunday, 9 August 2009

The Mayor of Doncaster

This link has been sent to me regarding Peter Davies, the new elected mayor of Doncaster. We need people like him in every town hall around the country. He is my kind of mayor.

The Quango War

Every Leader of the Opposition promises to cut the number of Quangos. When they become prime minister, they usually forget this promise and by the time they are out of office, the number of Quangos has increased. Margaret Thatcher, John Major and Tony Blair, all promised a decrease, so why should we believe David Cameron when he promises a war on Quangos?

You may be skeptical, as I am too, however, those who fears their jobs are for the axe are taking Cameron's warning seriously. The TPA campaign director, Mark Wallace, has written an article for Conservative Home detailing how the heads of some Quangos are publicly sharpening their knives and pointing them in the direction of other Quangos. This is becoming a Quango war, and I for one am looking forward to the spectacle of them all trying to justify their existence.

Saturday, 1 August 2009

High Taxes impede entrepreneurial flair

The Taxpayers' Alliance Research Director, Matthew Sinclair and Dr Jonathan Scott, have co-authored a report showing how high taxes impede entrepreneurial flair. Read it here.

The 50% tax rate for high earners is the politics of envy and should not have a place in Britain today. Not only will it be useless - as those affected will use every means at their disposal to legally avoid paying the higher tax rate - it will also stifle aspiration. What is the point of taking risks and building up your own company from scratch, when all the government wants to do is tax you to death?

Especially in this time of recession, we need to keep taxes as low as possible. We need to be able to hit the ground running when the economy starts to recover. We want to be ahead of our competitors. High taxes and mountains of red tape will not assist our recovery; they will impede it.

Wednesday, 29 July 2009

Chief Executive of Hull City Council

The news broke yesterday in the Hull Daily Mail that Kim Ryley, the chief executive of Hull City Council is departing to take up a post as chief executive of the newly formed unitary authority in Shropshire. During the last financial year, he earned in excess of £200,000 working in Hull. He would not be leaving for the same money, or less, so we can safely assume his new salary will be approaching a quarter of a million.

What we are concerned about in this branch is how much the new chief executive - who is yet to be appointed - will receive. Now is the time for action. I urge you all to write to Cllr Carl Minns, Leader of Hull City Council, and express your views. Ask him what he regards as a fair salary for the top officer at the Guildhall. Tell him salaries of £200,000 cannot be justified, even when the economy is not in a recession.

You can also write a letter to the Hull Daily Mail and express your opinion. We need to keep up the pressure on Hull City Council and we can only do this with your help.

Cllr Minns' e-mail address is:

Thursday, 23 July 2009

Do MPs give value for money?

Today, the people of Hull and the East Riding welcomed home our troops from the Yorkshire Regiment as they marched through the streets of Hull and Beverley. Those young men risk their lives for the security of their country, many of them for under £20,000 a year.

Our elected representatives in the House of Commons on the other hand are now off on their holidays. They have 12 weeks to recharge their batteries after their exhausting parliamentary year where they spent 143 days in Westminster. Although parliamentary work is only one part of an MP's job, for the next 12 weeks they can do as little or as much as they want to. Instead of holding the government to account - especially whilst our troops are risking their lives in Afghanistan and the country braces itself for a pandemic of swine flu - they are pleasing themselves and 'earning' over £15,000 in the process. This is just a little less than some of our soldiers, risking their lives for Queen and country, will earn in a year.

Who do you think gives value for money? Come and join us in our fight for better government.

Saturday, 18 July 2009

More publicity in the Yorkshire Post

Here is a link to a letter I wrote to the Yorkshire Post, which was published today. The subject is MPs' allowances and expenses.

Friday, 17 July 2009

NHS Yacht, Yes. Tamiflu, No

NHS Hull can find £500,000 to fund a yacht, however, they cannot find the cash to give everyone in the City 'Tamiflu' if they develop Swine Flu symptoms. Yet another example of the misuse of public money.

Wednesday, 15 July 2009

East Riding Councillors' Allowances in the Hull Daily Mail

We have more coverage in the Hull Daily Mail today regarding the expenses and allowances of East Riding Councillors. Read the story HERE.

Tuesday, 14 July 2009

Letter in the Hull Daily Mail - July 14

I had a letter on behalf of the TPA published in the Hull Daily Mail today. As the Mail does not publish letters on its website, here is the letter in full:

Dear Editor

The news that Hull City Council chief executive, Kim Ryley, earns more than £200,000, may be a shock to many, however, I am not surprised.

Hull is not an isolated case. Peter Gilroy, the chief executive of Kent County Council, earned £255,000 in 2007-08, having received an 8.5 per cent increase on the previous year.

This pattern is being repeated around the country. While the rest of us are told to tighten our belts, the pay of senior council employees has risen well above inflation.

What annoys voters in equal measure is that My Ryley received an extra £10,815 for his role as returning officer in last year's city council elections. Surely this is part of the chief executive's job description. When you are earning a salary like his, extra work is not only justified, it should be expected.

There are thousands of pensioners across the city having to make ends meet on less than Mr Ryley's bonus who are angry at this revelation. It will interesting to see if My Ryley is willing to speak to the Mail and justify his pay package. I am sure the taxpayers of Hull would be interested to hear his response.

Yours sincerely

Andrew Allison
Organiser, Hull and East Riding of Yorkshire Branch, Taxpayers' Alliance

Thursday, 9 July 2009

A response from East Riding Council on Councillors Allowances and Expenses

I have received a reply from ERYC. As I have previously mentioned, there are 48 councillors out of a total of 67, who receive extra pay, officially known as a Special Responsibility Allowance. See below for all the details of that and much more. It seems as if some councillors are certainly not tightening their belts during the recession. Indeed, some are loosening their belts after enjoying a free lunch at the taxpayers' expense.


£ £

1. Basic Allowance

(a) All Members (per annum) 10,574

(b) IT Initial 700

(c) IT Maintenance (per annum) 142

2. Special Responsibility Allowances (per annum)


Leader of the Council and

Leader of the Conservative Group 34,130

Deputy Leader of the Council and Deputy

Leader of the Conservative Group 25,597

Other Cabinet Members 13,719

Leader of the Liberal Democrat Group 13,719

Leader of the Labour Group 3,430

Leader of the Independent Group 3,430

Planning Committee Chairman 11,157

(b) Overview and Scrutiny and Overview & Management Committee -

Chairman 9,147

(c) Overview and Scrutiny and Overview & Management Committee -

Vice Chairman 2,287

(d) Area Planning Sub, Licensing, Licensing Act 2003, Pensions,

Staff Terms and Conditions Committees -

Chairman 3,430

3. Group Officer Supplements (per annum)*

(e) Conservative Group – (47)

Secretary - 4,572

Whip - 3,656

Assistant Secretary - 2,284

Assistant Secretary - 2,284

Assistant Group Whip – 2,284

Unallocated 994

-------- 16,074

(f) Liberal Democrat Group – (12)

Deputy Leader - 1,232 Secretary - 2,052

Whip - 410

Chair - 410

------- 4,104

* £342 per capita allocated by the Groups to Members holding Group Offices.


4. Co-optees Allowance

(a) Up to 4 hours duration 45.00

(b) Over 4 hours duration 75.00

5. Dependent Carers’ Allowances (per hour)

(a) Childcare 5.73

(b) Dependent Carer 10.00

6. Travelling Allowances

(a) Essential Car User -

Up to 999 cc (per mile) 0.340*

(plus per annum) (753)

Over 999 cc (per mile) 0.369 *

(plus per annum) (849)

(b) Casual Car User -

Up to 999 cc (per mile) 0.429 *

Over 999 cc (per mile) 0.469 *

(c) Bicycle (per mile) 0.100

(d) Public Transport -

Actual cost

* Up to 6,000 miles per annum, £0.17 thereafter

7. Subsistence Allowances

(a) Actual cost not exceeding

Breakfast - more than 4 hours before 11 am 6.29

Lunch - more than 4 hours including 12 noon to 2 pm 8.58

Tea - more than 4 hours including 3 pm to 6 pm 3.42

Dinner - more than 4 hours ending after 7 pm 17.14

Overnight (covering 24 hours) - Inner London 160.00

- Elsewhere 120.04

(b) Out of pocket expenses (per night) 4.57

NB The basic, special responsibility, group officer supplements, co-optees, bicycle and subsistence allowances have been increased automatically in line with the NJC officers’ national pay award.

Sunday, 5 July 2009

Action Day - 11 July

A quick reminder to everyone that we are having an action day in Beverley on Saturday 11 July. We will be meeting outside the old cinema in Saturday Market at 11.30 am. We will then be door-to-door leafleting for around an hour and a half.

New members are more than welcome. Please contact me if you would like more details.

East Riding Council publishes councillors' expenses

The East Riding of Yorkshire Council (ERYC) has published councillors' expenses and allowances for 2008/9.

An amazing 48 councillors out of 67 claim a Special Responsibility Allowance. What the council does not say in its publication 'East Riding News', is how councillors come to be able to claim these extra sums. With some digging around, I can find this information out, however, once again we find public money being spent without any transparency.

I contacted Cllr Stephen Parnaby, Leader of ERYC, a week ago and asked him if he would consider publishing councillors' expenses and their attendance record at committee meetings on a regular basis, so we the public can find out who claims what and if they deserve the extras they are getting. One week later, Cllr Parnaby has not got back to me. I can't say I am surprised.

I am going to write to him today, repeating my request. I will keep you informed as and when he replies to me.

Saturday, 27 June 2009

Cllr Paul Robinson publishes his expenses

MPs fought tooth and nail to prevent their expenses being revealed. Now we can see why. Many of our elected representatives have been milking the taxpayer for years. Now they apologise because they have been caught out and desperately want to keep their jobs at the next general election.

As a result of the MPs' expenses revelations the BBC decided to come clean and publish the expenses of its senior executives. Many of those expenses were questionable, but at least the BBC has come clean without being forced to do so.

East Riding of Yorkshire Councillor Paul Robinson believes in transparency in local government and last month published his expenses claims for the last financial year. He is right in doing so and I wish there were many more like him. Now his constituents can decide whether he is good value for money and they now see how he spends their money.

I ask all councillors to follow Cllr Robinson's lead. We need more transparency. Come on councillors, let the light in.

Friday, 26 June 2009

Action Day - 11 July

Come and join us for an action day in Beverley on 11 July. We will be door-to-door leafleting for around one and a half hours and then meeting up for a chat afterwards in a suitable hostelry. If you are free, we would love to see you. E-mail me for more details.

FOI Request

I have received a reply back from the East Riding of Yorkshire Council. Just the usual. They will get back to me by 22 July - the standard 20 working days time limit for FOI requests. I will keep you informed when the information arrives.

Tuesday, 23 June 2009

Car Parking Charges in the East Riding

When the East Riding of Yorkshire Council (ERYC) set-up a review panel into car parking charges, you didn't have to be a genius to work out that recommending car parking charges in car parks that are currently free, was not going to be popular.

Still the council went on, despite widespread public anger at the charges. ERYC then held roadshows, getting feedback from the public. Surprise, surprise; the vast majority were against charges being introduced.

This scheme is a dead duck. I know that, you know that and so does the council, but they are still going to plough on and sift through all the questionnaires, log the results and the review group will meet a few more times before they give in to the inevitable.

Today, I have issued a Freedom of Information request to ERYC. I have asked them to inform me of the total cost to date of this review panel, including all the administrative costs and expenses. It will be fascinating to read their reply.

NEW Hull and East Riding Branch

The Hull and East Riding of Yorkshire Branch of the Taxpayers' Alliance was launched on Saturday 13 June. We held a very successful action day in Beverley, finding much support from local people.

Here you will be able to find out what we are up to and how you can get involved. If you want more information, please e-mail me on the address in the sidebar.