Wednesday, 5 May 2010

Barnet withholds expenses file until after elections

Barnet Council has delayed releasing details of Councillor expenses until one day after the local elections finish.

The details were requested by a local blogger almost a year ago, but their release has been repeatedly pushed back by officers.

Freedom of information requests should ordinarily be responded to within twenty working days.

Only a fraction of the information requested has so far been disclosed.

In one leaked email, the borough's Conservative Mayor Brian Coleman complains that the requests were an "attempt to make trouble" and not "a sensible use of Council resources."

Meanwhile his own "use of resources" have been withheld from constituents.

Coleman, described as an "expenses farmer" in the latest edition of Private Eye, is a notorious abuser of the expenses system at City Hall.

In just one year he claimed £10,000 in taxi bills and has consistently fought against disclosure.

Last year he was the only London Asembly member not release their expenses, saying that only the "mad, sad and bad" would want to see them.

He reportedly only gave in after a showdown with Boris Johnson.

Details of all Barnet Council expenses will now be released on the 7th May. Just one day after voting in the local elections closes.


Will said...

Private Eye also called him an 'oaf of a man' if I'm not mistaken. Is there any chance of getting rid of him at these elections?

AdamB said...

He's a Conservative politician in a safe Conservative seat in a Conservative borough going into the elections with a 6% London-wide swing to the Conservatives. So no.

Anonymous said...

This is not the case, and the voters of Totteridge must understand that they have THREE votes and do not have to vote for Coleman as part of the package if they must vote Tory. There are two other Tory candidates, and for the third voters can either vote for someone else as an alternative to this ghastly man or leave the space blank.

As for the FOI scandal, I have also experienced the delayed witholding of embarrassing information in a response myself this year and duly complained to the ICO who found Barnet to have been in breach of the FOI act. I believe that this, and other recent examples, as well as the recent loss of personal data affecting 9,000 pupils, including my son, present a strong reason for the ICO to conduct a review of Barnet's 'management' of information.

saifu03 said...

Barnet - they are a flagship Tory council aren't they?
I live there - tory to the core. Services get worse but get compared to what is in the papers rather than reality...

Coleman is not in anyway exceptional within the council - almost all the councillors (tory) have similarly dodgy pasts and decidedly selfish ideas for how governance works.

AdamB said...

Yes it's the so called "EasyCouncil" although quite who it's meant to be easy for is beyond me.

Like many other "safe" councils there does seem to be a culture of arrogance there - No wonder Brian's the Mayor.

BritSwedeGuy said...

I live in Cricklewood and can tell you from first-hand experience that the Tory council are an utter disgrace.

Anonymous said...

Let us not forget Brian Coleman's taxi bill was the result of losing his driving licence because of speeding. In office he has had traffic calming measures removed in Barnet, so increased expenditure because of his doctrinaire attitude to freedom for motorists.

Phil Smith (Finchley) said...

As a real licensed London Taxi driver, may I point out that Brians bills were as a result of using an East Finchley based Minicab company who waited outside Colemans various functions at hundreds of pounds a go.

He could easily have hailed a taxi there, and one back for a quarter of what the PH company charged us.

For the first time ever I voted against the Tory majority in Barnet. I don't like what I see and hear about this mob of incumbants of a 4 year ego trip.