Friday, 4 March 2011

My New Website and An Expenses Story

My new website on my work as a councillor Align Leftin Northwood is available here.
Please have a look, I would welcome any feedback.

It still has a few small tweaks for me to work out but it is almost there. I still have plenty to add but have taken off the "under development" notice.

There are of course many references to subjects I have covered here. I have linked to press coverage of issues in the Northwood ward I represent. When putting it together one story on expenses caught my eye.
In 2009 Cllr. John Watkins and I complained about the free drinks and food available after Full Council meetings of Thanet District Council. I have only attended once soon after I was elected in 2007. I was surprised to see a generous buffet together with cans of beer and lager with bottles of wine, plus soft drinks. The alcoholic drinks were available on a help yourself basis.
I didn't go back because I couldn't see that having free alcoholic drinks was something I could justify as a councillor. Recently we have heard much about austerity but I argued years ago that councillors should not be enjoying this kind of generous perk.
Labour councillors rarely if ever attend these free refreshement sessions. On one occasion one of my colleagues was returning to their car after drinking in a local hostelry at their own expense. As they did so they encountered several Conservative councillors carrying several plates from the post Council buffet to the nearby Conservative Club.
As they said to me, it was pleasing to see councillors so committed to recycling as the food would only have gone to waste! It did though seem an unreasonable use of council taxpayers money. There is also the question of the staff required to keep the building open, plus lighting, heating etc all at the taxpayers expense.
This is a cost saving that is long overdue.


  1. Mark, you are below contempt... The 'refreshments' you refer to are paid for out of the Chairmans own purse.

  2. Anon 5.3.11 you are wrong as I sourced my story through the Chief Executive's office and the then Chairman. I am unadvised these circumstances have not changed.
    I will write further on this.

  3. I think the exchanges on Big News Margate and the confusion - or worse - among Tory Council Members say it all.

  4. Mark, I see you have been dubbed a champagne socialist by some commentator over on Thanet Life.
    You are not of my political inclination but I would never have classed you in that category. Indeed, I admire the way you have stuck to your principles, despite your treatment, and that you are still fighting for the issues that concern you.

  5. The unprincipled blogmeister of Thanet Life, who spins like a political top, is simply trying to stir up muck locally, as he always does.

    Returning to the subject of this thread, the exchanges on Bignews Margate demonstrate that Mark is right in what he has said about payment for refreshments. The public purse IS funding the refreshments provided for at the end of Council meetings. The first poster here - who may also have posted on BNM - deliberately tried to mislead readers with the suggestion that they are paid for out of the Chair's "own purse". That is not the case and yet it was endorsed by Tory Councillor Gregory. He and his colleague, Wells posted differing accounts, but neither will step forward to provide the facts and the truth.

    One can only speculate as to why they will not.