Reservoir Hogs Squeal As Home Secretary Overturns Police Authority Trough

Readers of the Swindon Advertiser may have recently noticed the spectacle of  Councillor Brian Ford, (Conservative, Wroughton),  sticking his head up above the trough wall to squeal angrily at the Home Secretary Theresa May, who announced on Monday that police authorities would be scrapped.

Cllr Ford is the vice-chairman of the Wiltshire Police Authority so perhaps we shouldn’t be too surprised when he says he is: “totally opposed” to the plans because it appears Brian trousers a cool £18,058 in basic allowances, (plus incidentals like mileage etc), each year. Councillor Brian’s fellow authority-squatting councillors each snag at least £8,824 every year for ‘services rendered’.  (Exact figures are published at foot of post).

But Brian isn’t the only Swindon Borough Councillor sitting on the Wiltshire Police authority. He is joined by two other Swindon Borough Councillors, Roderick Bluh (Conservative Leader of the Council, Dorcan Ward), and Ray Fisher (Conservative, Stratton St Margaret), both of whom also receive a healthy remuneration for their presence although it must be said that I don’t think either politician snags quite as much cash as Cllr Ford from this particular committee.

Home Secretary Theresa May is signalling that from 2012, the general public will be able to vote in, and out, Commissioners of police, who in turn will be able to hire and fire Chief Constables, thus making those at the top of the police service fully accountable to the general public again.  This is  something Councillors Ford and Montaut describe as:  “unnecessary” and “risking the politicising of the police force”…… thus neatly demonstrating why neither of them should be within 20 miles of a police authority, let alone be paid for their involvement.

Councillor Ford considers the threat to his allowances to be so serious that he’s prepared to publicly disagree with Conservative Party National Policy by saying:

“I’m totally opposed to the Conservative proposals and I was actually part of a delegation of a dozen members of the Association of Police Authorities who went to Portcullis House about 18 months ago to see the then shadow Home Secretary and Police Minister and spent three hours arguing very strongly against having Police Commissioners.

“I find it difficult to understand how one person can do what 17 are at the moment and if one person does do the job they will probably get additional officer assistance which will cost money”

So, there are 17 members on the police authority, all presumably trousering a respectable wad of public cash.   I reckon replacing all of them with one publicly elected commissioner, even with a personal assistant, will actually save us quite a bit of public money and leave us with a properly accountable person to either pat on the back or kick up the arse from time to time if he or she doesn’t do what they promised at election time.  I also think that readers of this blog will quickly realise that none of us are presently able to influence who is, or who is not, appointed to the police authority, and the current members of the police authority are not accountable to any of us in any meaningful way – can we add or remove Brian, Brian or Derique from their police authority positions?, no we can not – so are they accountable to us?, the answer has to be ‘no, they are not’.

Councillor Ford also fails to address every other potential benefits of the changes outlined by Ms May, which she claims will lead to police forces working more efficiently by collaborating with each other across a much wider range of policing functions than happens at present. There is also the ongoing drive towards getting better value for money from our police service.

A document released by the Home Secretary called ‘Policing in the 21st Century: Reconnecting Police and the People’ sets out how the police service in England and Wales will become more accountable to the public and responsive to local people, more focused at a national level and more effective at tackling crime, as well as providing better value for money.

David Cameron says:

“The fundamental reforms we are announcing today continue our work to deliver a police service that is visible and accountable to the very people it serves in communities up and down the country.”

“By replacing invisible police authorities with directly elected police and crime commissioners, we can forge a direct link between the police and the public, ensuring that the public have a voice in setting police priorities and have the power to hold the police to account for keeping our streets safe and secure”

Invisible Police Authorities’ Cameron called them, and his description seems spot-on to me.  How many of us can remember the last time we heard Brians personal little fiefdom mentioned or discussed locally…. Never? at least, not until mssr’s Ford, Bluh and Fisher’s seats at the trough are threatened and then hear angry oinking starts.  Describing them as ‘Disgruntled’ seems entirely appropriate.

Not to be left out of the fun, or as seems more likely, heartily encouraged to take part by his Tory friends, Labour councillor and ex-member of the Wiltshire Police Authority  Derique Montaut weighs into the fray with:

“It is the Swindon Labour group’s belief that politicising the police force would be wrong for Swindon and wrong for the country. What these proposals mean for Swindon is that we will have an elected police commissioner for just Wiltshire, who will be sat in Devizes concentrating on rural issues that face the rest of the county”

“Of course, Swindon has a completely different set of problems to Wiltshire but we will not be able to get our voices heard because the police commissioner will be representing the whole of the county.

Does Monty have prior knowledge of who the first elected Commissioner will be?, but in any event I think the Labour group are wrong on this.  Directly electing Police Commissioners will be more democratic than the current pork-barrel arrangements and will make the leadership of the Police service more accountable to us, the public it serves.  Making the police service less of a feeding trough to the lucky and unaccountable few is also no bad thing.

The Advertisers reports that Wiltshire Police are declining to comment on the proposals but, speaking personally, I welcome the day when I can at last take part in the decision making process as to who will be publicly accountable to all of us for the successes and failures of our police service.

I am sick of listening to the angry rants of politicians who are more concerned with protecting lucrative places at the trough than they are with delivering the devolved and ‘localised power’ to us which has been promised for several years now.  The fact that Ford fails to deliver any cogent arguments to support the Conservative councillors continued troughing, (other than  some half-arsed scare-mongering  that the police service will become ‘politicised’),  makes his oinking sound typically ‘political’ to my ears.

The reservoir of quango cash is visibly drying up and the Hogs, afraid that they’ll go hungry, have stupidly dragged themselves blinking into the full glare of the sun to protest about it.  ‘Stupidly’,  because their vainglorious oinking’s, when considered against the back-story of Roderick Bluh happily traded revenue for votes – a mistake which now leaves the council sacking hundreds of employees – exposes them for being the same type of self-interested politicians that we saw in Westminster last year…..

…so, do I want to see the political troughing carry on unabated at our expense and at the expense of our police services?, or do I want to see our police service become more accountable to us and provide more service for less wastage?  I rather think I prefer the latter……

Additional:  Discussion topic now open on Talkswindon Forum Here: http://www.talkswindon.org/index.php?topic=6172.0

How Deep Is The Trough?

Figures obtained today from the Wiltshire Police Authority Website

Members of the Police Authority receive allowances for the duties they perform. Details of the current allowances payable are set out below:
Allowance Type

Amount (per annum unless stated)

Basic Allowance  £8,824

Additional Committee Allowance:

Three Committees (excluding Consultation and Public Focus, and Standards) £1,026

Four Committees or more  (excluding Consultation and Public Focus, and Standards) £2,052
Special Responsibility Allowances:

Chairman  £16,416

Vice-Chairman £9,234

Committee Chairman £7,182

Lead Member  £7,182

IT and Telephone Allowance £308

Police Appeal Tribunal Panels are paid at the same daily rate set by the Home Office for other tribunal members

Carers / Dependents Allowance  Up to £7.66 per hour

Independent Members of Standards Committee  £25.65 per hour  (up to £205 per day)

Selection Panel for the Appointment of Independent Members to the Authority  £25.65 per hour  (up to £205 per day)

Travel Allowances (for all car sizes)

Up to 10,000 miles
40 pence a mile

Over 10,000 miles
25 pence a mile

Subsistence Allowances – for actual expenditure not exceeding the rates detailed below:

Day (up to 12 hours)  £10

Day (over 12 hours)   £20

Overnight (24 hours)  £30 (excluding hotel costs)
Claims for reimbursement are required to be backed up with appropriate receipts. Any cost above the limit will be expected to be financed by the individual.

1. Wiltshire Police Authority has approved a Scheme of Allowances and Expenses for Members in accordance with the provisions of Section 107 of the Criminal Justice and Police Act 2001 and was adopted by Wiltshire Police Authority on 13th February 2003. This Scheme will take effect from 1st April 2010.

2. Details of the amounts payable under the Scheme can be found at Appendix A.

3. Wiltshire Police Authority Members are entitled to receive an Annual Basic Allowance. This Allowance is intended to cover attendance at, and full participation in, full Police Authority meetings, Members Briefing Sessions and two Committees of the Authority.

4. Members who have membership of three Committees or more (excluding Consultation and Public Focus, and Standards Committee) may claim an additional committee allowance.

5. Members who have special responsibilities are entitled to receive a special responsibility allowance in addition to the Basic Allowance. The special responsibility roles are:

* Police Authority Chairman
* Police Authority Vice-Chairman
* Audit and Risk Committee Chairman
* Consultation and Public Focus Committee Chairman
* Human Resources Committee Chairman
* Performance Committee Chairman
* Professional Standards Committee Chairman
* Resources Committee Chairman
* Strategy, Direction and Progress Chairman
* Lead Member for Inclusivity
* Lead Member for Protective Services

6. Members may claim either one additional committee allowance or only one special responsibility allowance.

7. Members may claim an allowance for assistance with IT and telephone consumables / bills, providing they are not in receipt of a similar allowance from another source.

8. Members appointed to Police Appeal Tribunals shall be paid at the same daily rate set by the Home Office for other tribunal members.

9. Any Member who is required to pay a carer in order to enable their attendance at approved duties of the Authority may claim a carers / dependents allowance. This allowance shall be paid upon the production of a valid signed receipt, and shall be for actual expenditure incurred up to a maximum of £7.66 per hour.

10. Carers / dependents allowance may be claimed for the total hours it takes for a Member to leave home and return home after participating in the business of the Police Authority. The allowance shall not be payable in respect of care provided by a Member of the claimant’s family or household.

11. Payments may be claimed in respect of children aged 16 or under and in respect of other dependents where there is medical or social work evidence that care is required.

12. The Standards Committee consists of six members of the Authority and three Independent Members. Independent Members shall be paid an hourly rate of £25.65 (up to £205 per day). Travelling time may be included in any claim.

13. The Independent Members Selection Panel comprises five members, three of whom are appointed by the Authority, a member appointed by the Home Office, and an Independent Assessor (who is selected by the first four members). Each member of the Panel, including any Police Authority Members, shall be paid an hourly rate of £25.65 (up to £205 per day). Travelling time may be included in any claim.

14. Any Member may choose not to accept part or all of the allowances to which s/he is entitled under this Scheme. Such a decision should be notified by the Member to the Chief Executive in writing.

15. Members will be paid at the rates agreed annually by the Inland Revenue for subsistence allowances or mileage reimbursement.

16. In respect of ‘Out of County’ journeys, where a round trip exceeds 140 miles and convenient rail travel is available (but a member chooses to travel by car), s/he will only be paid the equivalent of a standard class return rail fare. If, however, the rail journey would involve three train changes or more, the member will be entitled to claim the usual mileage rate. Reasonable transport costs, ie. taxis for journeys from home to a railway station and return, or station to a conference venue, will be payable.

17. If travelling by rail, Members are entitled to travel first class, but are asked to consider using standard class.

18. Members are asked to retain receipts for submission with their claims.

19. The Chairman, in consultation with the Chief Executive, will review members’ attendance at Police Authority meetings, Briefing Sessions and Committee meetings, every six months. Attendance below 80% in any six month period will be queried with the member concerned for consideration of any action required.

20. Each Authority member will be issued with a role profile, specific to the role that they do, and will be subject to an annual Member Development Review.

21. The allowances referred to in this Scheme (with the exception of the allowances for members of Police Appeals Tribunals and travel and subsistence) shall be up-rated automatically, from 1st April each year, in line with Police Staff rates which determine increases in pay for police staff.

22. The various annual allowances referred to in this Scheme will be paid monthly in arrears in equal instalments.

23. The payment of any allowance will cease immediately upon any person covered by the Scheme ceasing to be a Member of the Wiltshire Police Authority or ceasing to hold a position that attracts a Special Responsibility Allowance under this Scheme.

24. Allowances will be paid on a pro-rata basis up to the date when membership ceases, or a Member no longer holds the position that attracts a Special Responsibility Allowance.

25. This Scheme may only be amended or revoked by a resolution of the Police Authority in accordance with Paragraphs 25 and 25A of Schedule 2 to the Police Act 1996.

Last Updated on Tuesday, 11 May 2010 12:42

Nice work if you can get it…..

Posted on
Friday, July 30th, 2010
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