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News and Comment April 2012

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30 April (Part 2) - Where the money goes

There has been comment before on how lucky some councillors are to pick up jobs with other public bodies, just by virtue of being councillors. Some are paid significant sums; John Davey (£7,782) at the NHS Care Trust for example but he is not the only one, councillor Eileen Pallen has been playing the same game.

Councillors being paid by outside bodies may go with the territory and prove how well paid they are and why they are in the job, but what about money that flows in the other direction? Clubs and groups and other voluntary organisations run or managed by councillors that Bexley council decides to lavish money on? Funding for the Council for Equality and Diversity was withdrawn a year ago but in 2010/11 - the last year for which any figures are available - Bexley council handed over £110,146.

The Belvedere Community Centre was gifted £31,368. It is run by councillors Allon, Fuller, Macdonald and Margaret O’Neill. The Hurst Community Centre picked up £29,200. Councillor Chris Taylor is on its committee. The Scout’s County Executive was paid £116,500 - some of it for providing approved youth services. Councillor Hunt is Executive Council Member. The Local Arts Council is run by councillor John Davey. Another £15,000 goes there.

Without voluntary organisations Bexley might be a poorer place but money is flowing to business too.

Richmond Events is the company that ran the Danson Festival in 2010 and received £82,531 for their trouble. Why should Bexley council contract an international company with its UK HQ, in Richmond? I have no idea, maybe you should ask councillor John Fuller, he works for them.

Councillor June Slaughter is on the board of Bird College, a sort of local Italia Conti theatrical school without quite the same track record for producing new ‘stars’. It ran some music classes in Bexley schools and their price was £284,533. Bexley Manor Nursery School provides child care under the ‘Early Years’ scheme which is quite a good business to be in. It took £154,661 from Bexley council. Its director is councillor John Waters.

Councillor Slaughter subsequently informed me that the information about herself taken from the council’s accounts (Page 70) is incorrect. She has a minor role in the music department, no board responsibilities.

The big one is the Thames Innovation Centre with seven councillors on the board in 2010/11, fewer now. Bexley gave them fifty thousand pounds worth of services to keep it afloat, provided nearly half a million quid’s worth of furniture, free, gratis and for nothing and contributed sixty thousand for building work. Then, just in case that wasn’t enough, came up with a loan facility of £450,000 - interest free over ten years. Who else gets ten year interest free loans from Bexley council? Oh, an academy school I think it was, but that is a story for another time.

Note: The figures shown are all extracted from Bexley council’s 2010/11 accounts.


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