Political Dirty Tricks and Smears – Is this the start?
I had an interesting but strange email from the Conservative Leader of the Borough Council last Monday informing me that HE had “authorised the release” under a Freedom of Information Request the expenses I claimed during my period as Leader of the Council in May 2011.
It was strange for a number of reasons; firstly I’ve always understood that the release of information under the FOI legislation is the duty and responsibility of the Solicitor to the Council and FOI Officer.
Secondly, Councillor allowances are available and published every year without having to resort to a FOI which is paid for by the taxpayer,
Thirdly, it is the first email I have received for over 16 months from the Leader of the Council.
So why the sudden interest in something that is freely available on request?
But given that we are about to enter an election and the now well-known way that some individuals seek to discredit and smear their opponents we may have seen the start of dirty tactics rather than address and fight the campaign on the issues.
They only had to ask and I am happy to publish my expenses claims.
For the period that they are clearly concerned about I claimed, between 25 May 2011 and 30 September 2011 the following expenses which no doubt with no duck houses, claims for meals, drink, or moat clearances, etc may find disappointing.
25 May SEMLEP Group Leaders meeting in Daventry as a lead up to bidding for Northampton to be awarded the Enterprise Zone – Mileage £9.90
8 June 2011 Meeting with the Mayor of Bedford in Bedford to discuss the issue of the EZ Bid and ask for his support of our bid – Mileage £18.40
10 June 2011 SEMLEP Board meeting in Kettering at which I successfully presented Northampton’s bid to be the preferred SEMLEP EZ submission to Government Mileage £13.50 parking £6.00
13 June 2011 University of Northampton launch of their excellent Social Enterprise initiative at the House of Lords Travelling from Wellingborough Station. Parking £8.50 Rail Fare £43.00
28 June 2011 to 30 June 2011 Local Government Association Conference in Birmingham Mileage £56.42
7 July 2011 West Northamptonshire Business Sub Group meeting in Towcester Mileage £9.90
11 July 2011 Meeting at Adrenaline Alley in Corby to discuss the proposed skate park in Northampton and how it could be implemented and developed to provide a first class facility followed by a meeting in Corby at 6.30 at the Corby CUBE Mileage £22.72
1 August 2011 Northamptonshire Group Leaders meeting in Corby Mileage £21.78 Parking £2.00
9 August 2011 Community Safety Partnership Review Workshop in Corby to discuss strategic direction of CSP’s across the County Mileage £21.28 Parking £2.00
8 September 2011 West Northamptonshire Joint Strategic Partnership meeting in Daventry Business Sub Group working party Mileage £11.70
30 September 2011 SEMLEP board meeting in Luton which was the first meeting following the award to Northampton of the largest Enterprise Zone in England Mileage £38.70
This was a period during which I also visited Parliament to talk to SEMLEP MP’s and other Local Authorities to talk to Leaders as part of an intense campaign to bring them on-board in the run up to the Government taking the decision on who would be awarded an Enterprise Zone all of for which I didn’t claim expenses for.
It may be of interest to those having suddenly taken an interest in my finances that I have made no expenses claims or accepted freebies since the 30 September 2011.
The question now of course is now “will those interested if Councillors now publish details of their expenses claimed since the election in May 2011”?