Councillors should have monthly audit

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WITH the imminent cuts and the concomitant economies of scale and service threatened, it seems timely and fitting that our council should submit itself to public scrutiny and popular appraisal.

Specifically, its consituent numbers and normal activities, which together bear heavily on the public purse.

Particularly, the factors of performance outcomes and costs in respect of meetings, travelling and expenses claims.

The bin men were subjected to a forensic examination of their working schedule and their supposed inefficient practices and over-remuneration duly amended.

All to the accompaniment of pious declarations and indignant tones. Yet these men, literally, ran their rounds and performed a visible, necessary, unsavoury job for little reward.

So, is every meeting necessary? What is the level of reimbursement? What evident outcome? What numbers in attendance? What duration? How frequent?

Let us have a detailed monthly schedule for each of our “glorious 99” (councillors) and by their own estimate let them record the benefits achieved, concrete improvements enacted and progress facilitated.

I have not known, personally, anyone who has sought help from a “ninety-niner” and believe that their nominal, negligible function could easily be subsumed within the normal processes and organs of local government departments.

P Kilroy, Spennithorne Avenue, Leeds

Cynical exercise

AS regards reassessment of incapacity benefit claimants (YEP, February 25), I think readers should take three facts into account first:

1) There are nearly 1 million young people (NEETS) not in education, employment or training that this Government can do nothing for;

2) There are 1.5 million other unemployed people this Government cannot find a job for;

3) There are over 1 million people in part-time work who would prefer full-time employment.

The numbers of all these three groups are rising. So where is this “journey to work” for those on IB going to lead? Probably just a cut of income from £90 a week – to £30 or £40 less. After all, there are 3.5 million people and rising that the Government cannot find work for, who are more capable than them.

It’s a cynical cost-cutting exercise. The fact is the weasel politicians would rather take money off a person in a wheelchair to reduce the deficit than their millionaire old Etonian chums in the City who have most of their money stashed in tax havens anyway.

T March, Burley, Leeds

Leader’s spin

SHEFFIELD City Council leader Paul Scriven has a nerve to claim that Labour-run councils like Leeds are playing politics with the jobs of their employees.

Let’s look at the facts. Leeds is reducing the size of its council workforce by 1,500 employees. Meanwhile Coun Scriven claims that Sheffield is only axing 270 jobs. But, according to the BBC website, Sheffield are making 270 compulsory redundancies, 320 voluntary redundancies while 600 vacancies are not being filled. This adds up to 1,200 jobs being cut.

Coun Scriven’s claim that only 270 jobs are going is pure spin.

At the same time, Lib Dem/Tory-controlled Birmingham council is axing 2,000 jobs.

The fact is that most large cities in the Midlands and the North are being forced to axe thousands of jobs because of an unfair budget allocation made by the Lib Dems and Tories in Westminster. It’s unfair because Tory and Lib Dem councils in the South are facing much smaller cuts.

Coun Scriven would do better to put loyalty to his city ahead of loyalty to his party by campaigning against the cuts, instead of using spin to make them appear more palatable.

Andy Charlwood, Stainbeck Lane, Leeds

Toxic legacy

IT is all right for Bryony Victoria King to name David Cameron, George Osborne and Eric Pickles as being responsible for the closure of the Leeds Crisis Centre but she forgot to name the real man responsible: Gordon Brown.

If the last government had left some funds for the present one, they wouldn’t have to be making any cuts at all.

There is an old adage that states “If you are in a hole, stop digging”. Gordon Brown was quite happy to keep digging, spending money he didn’t have until the country was properly bankrupt.

At least the present government is showing some degree of responsibility in trying to prevent this from happening.

Face the facts, if this country had become bankrupt, that would have been the end of the cosy welfare state, the NHS and all the crisis/self-help/community centres you could think of.

By making these cuts, David Cameron is trying to protect what we all hold dear whereas Gordon was quite happy to blindly bankrupt us all back into the Victorian era where the poor and the vulnerable were left to fend for themselves.

Mr T Tempest, Leeds

Living in hope

AT least a little bit of good news re the bankers and their bonuses. Hopefully, this new agreement between the Government and the bankers will lead to lending to businesses at hopefully low interest rates and to the limitation of bonuses. Only time will tell, but I live in hope.

More to the point at the moment is the local council cuts to reduce council spending to that deemed necessary by the Government.

It does appear that the cuts will affect every level of local government expenditure which I believe will leave the elderly, sick and handicapped to bear some reductions. I would hope that the most vulnerable will be protected but I have little hope of this.

Perhaps the existing council should have refused to implement any cuts. What would happen? Presumably the Government would have sent in the usual, highly overpaid civil servants from London to run the council and put the cost onto us, the council taxpayers. But at least the Government would have to do its own dirty work, rather than our local councillors – and it would be quite clear where to lay the blame.

In any case, there are some local elections in May when we can vote accordingly. Just imagine Leeds City Council with NO Conservative members.

M G Burbage-Atter, Rothwell

Cull officialdom

OVERSTAFFED, profligate councils should spend less time politicising about how they have been forced to cut frontline services and more time dismantling their empires of over-paid, Mickey Mouse jobs created during 13 years of Labour waste.

On an almost daily basis, bloated Labour and Lib-Dem councils have been taking ideological delight in slashing care for the vulnerable, then laying the blame at the door of the Tory-led Government.

The vast ranks of useless, paper-shuffling officialdom should be culled long before swimming pools and libraries are axed.

Under Labour far too much of the public sector became nothing more than a cushy employment racket and its instinct to featherbed its own personnel, at the expense of the taxpayer, is increasingly offensive.

We used to call greedy and wasteful councils the “Loony Left” but now senior council staff have their noses in the trough.

Councillors need to remember they were elected to serve the public – not themselves and their well-padded cronies in the Chief Executive’s office.

M Nicholson, Barwick in Elmet

Reform permits

I NOTE that the Department of Transport is seeking to reform the blue badge scheme, after much concern of abuse of said scheme.

It has long been my belief that the fact that the photo of the entitled person has to be placed downwards!

This, in my opinion, leads to the widespread abuse of the scheme.

Surely it makes more sense for the photo to be on view so that it can be seen that the entitled person is present when it is used.

Michael Dean, Brecon Court, Leeds

Soft touch?

WHEN we here in Britain abolished the death penalty for murder, we turned the judicial system on its head, for now a miscreant serving life (or 20 years in prison) has been freed of the hazards that plague the law-abiding.

They will have no worries regarding increases in food and can be sure of their three or four meals a day at no cost to them. They can utilise the snooker tables, dartboards, big screen television and watch up-to-date films, with no cost to themselves, but pushing these costs onto the God-fearing, honest man.

Ironic, isn’t it?

R Kirby, Stanningley

Obstacle course

IF the Army wants a new assault course, may I suggest it looks no further than the towpath on the Leeds and Liverpool canal. From Rodley going towards Greengates, this mile-and-a-half obstacle course has everything from potholes to water jumps, some deep enough to swim in.

How walkers, pram-pushers, the disabled and cyclists negotiate this barren stretch is beyond me.

So, British Waterways, pull your finger out and get a towpath that people can use in comfort.

Mr and Mrs F Summers, Bramley

Sobering thought

ONCE again there is talk of raising the price of drinks to help curb “binge drinking”. What a load of codswallop. Nothing will stop people who insist on getting drunk from downing gallons of stuff.

All this will do is make it difficult for ordinary members of the public to afford a quiet drink or two. A tax-raising scam if ever I heard one.

J Shedlow, Fir Tree Vale, Leeds

Save the Mail

HAVING been raised in the Christian faith, one bears no resentment towards the protagonists in the Royal Mail privatisation issue. However, the Royal Mail belongs to us, the taxpayers.

It’s beyond time the general public and the unions became more vociferous in its defence.

EMYR DAVIES, Wrexham

YEP Letters: August 23