Times Series submits series of questions to Barnet Borough Council about its previous members' allowances scheme

Times Series: Times Series submits series of questions to Barnet Borough Council about its previous members' allowance scheme Times Series submits series of questions to Barnet Borough Council about its previous members' allowance scheme

Times Series:

The Times Series submitted 16 questions (below) to Barnet Council about its controversial members’ allowance scheme which ran from August 2010 until March 2014. We specifically requested an answer to each question. The council instead sent us a short, obfuscatory response three days later. Do you, our readers and the borough’s taxpayers, believe this is good enough?

1 The Local Authorities (Members’ Allowances) (England) Regulations 2003 requires councils to agree on an annual basis a schedule of allowances payable to members and set out the provisions governing this. – Does Barnet Council agree with that statement?

2 Failure to agree a scheme may render the council in breach of its statutory duty. In addition, without a Members’ Allowance Scheme that describes the level of pay ascribed to each role a member undertakes may dilute accountability. – Does Barnet Council agree with that statement?

3 If the above statement is correct, has Barnet Council failed to comply with The Local Authorities (Members’ Allowances) (England) Regulations 2003 by not agreeing on an annual basis a schedule of allowances payable to members? Has the council also failed to comply with the regulations by not agreeing a new scheme since 2010? If not, please explain how.

4 If failure to agree a new scheme now possibly renders the council in breach of its statutory duty – why is that not already the case seeing that the council’s last scheme expired in March 2014?

5 If the members’ scheme (August 2010 – March 2014) is still valid (as previously claimed by the council) why would failing to agree a new scheme now ‘render the council in breach of its statutory duty’ as quoted in the council’s report?

6 If the members’ scheme (August 2010 – March 2014) is not valid, how can it be revoked?

7 Why does the council believe it can revoke a scheme which does not exist? If the council believes it is revoking the ‘existing scheme’ why does the council say it has run a four year scheme from August 2010 to March 2014?

8 Your report claims there is power under Regulation 12 to revoke an allowance scheme at any time. We believes this is false. We believe subject to Regulation 12 the scheme may be amended at any time but may only be revoked with effect from the beginning of the year? Can the council check this and confirm/deny?

9 If true, what will the council do?

10 As the council has continued to pay allowances after March 31, 2014 and agrees The Local Authorities (Members’ Allowances) (England) Regulations 2003 requires councils to agree a new scheme on an annual basis, does it believe it has paid expenses illegally? If not, please explain why.

11 As the council has continued to pay allowances after March 31, 2014 and agrees that failure to agree an annual scheme may render the council in breach of its statutory duty, does it believe it has breached its statutory duty between April and June 2014?

12 Does it all also believe it has breached its statutory duty in 2011, 2012 and 2013? If not, please explain why and please explain why the The Local Authorities (Members’ Allowances) (England) Regulations 2003 are not valid here?

13 Does the council still not accept it has breached its statutory duty by failing to agree a new members’ allowances scheme every year in conjunction with The Local Authorities (Members’ Allowances) (England) Regulations 2003?

14 As Regulation 12  only allows councils to revoke an allowance scheme at the beginning of the year or amend schemes, have members’ allowances been paid illegally since 2011? If not, please explain why.

15 Why were councillors summoned to last night's meeting and why was the agenda signed by Head of Governance Andrew Nathan?

16 Is the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government aware of the current issues with the Scheme of Members’ Allowances at Barnet Council?

Here is the council’s full response to the above questions: “The council is entirely satisfied that the draft Members’ Allowances Scheme that went to the council meeting last night is lawful in all respects. It duly takes account of the 2014 Report of the Independent Remuneration Panel. It is on an annual basis. The move from executive arrangements to a committee system authorises revocation of a previous scheme. The new scheme can take effect from the beginning of the year, 1 April 2014. This is all fully in accordance with the 2003 Regulations. As regards the previous scheme, it has been valid and subsisting until revoked. It has not previously been revoked. There have been no unlawful payments.”

Last month, the council’s chief operating officer and director of finance Chris Naylor wrote in a report entitled improving consultation and transparency within the council: “The council is committed to publishing information in such a way that allows the public to hold the council to account, demonstrating a commitment to public scrutiny.”

 

Comments (5)

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1:48pm Wed 16 Jul 14

AverageBarnetResident says...

What's the problem here? You submitted a list of questions and received an answer.
What a pathetic attempt at big boys' journalism.
What's the problem here? You submitted a list of questions and received an answer. What a pathetic attempt at big boys' journalism. AverageBarnetResident
  • Score: -8

7:05pm Wed 16 Jul 14

marccohen53 says...

Is the Hendon Times now a Labour paper? It's just one Tory council bashing story after another. The council has provided you with a response, why are you now scrutinising that? The council has better things to do than be held accountable by a paper which is clearly sympathetic to Labour members who base their entire election campaigns on desperate smear and not substance. Are you now going to run another poll on whether the council should respond further?!
Is the Hendon Times now a Labour paper? It's just one Tory council bashing story after another. The council has provided you with a response, why are you now scrutinising that? The council has better things to do than be held accountable by a paper which is clearly sympathetic to Labour members who base their entire election campaigns on desperate smear and not substance. Are you now going to run another poll on whether the council should respond further?! marccohen53
  • Score: -12

5:20pm Thu 17 Jul 14

sensiblefellow says...

marccohen53 wrote:
Is the Hendon Times now a Labour paper? It's just one Tory council bashing story after another. The council has provided you with a response, why are you now scrutinising that? The council has better things to do than be held accountable by a paper which is clearly sympathetic to Labour members who base their entire election campaigns on desperate smear and not substance. Are you now going to run another poll on whether the council should respond further?!
Nonsense. The Hendon Times is fulfilling its role as a serious local paper, which is prepared to ask tough questions of our elected officials.
[quote][p][bold]marccohen53[/bold] wrote: Is the Hendon Times now a Labour paper? It's just one Tory council bashing story after another. The council has provided you with a response, why are you now scrutinising that? The council has better things to do than be held accountable by a paper which is clearly sympathetic to Labour members who base their entire election campaigns on desperate smear and not substance. Are you now going to run another poll on whether the council should respond further?![/p][/quote]Nonsense. The Hendon Times is fulfilling its role as a serious local paper, which is prepared to ask tough questions of our elected officials. sensiblefellow
  • Score: 5

6:15pm Thu 17 Jul 14

AverageBarnetResident says...

The Hendon Times is a left-wing rag. 90% of stories are one-sided tory-bashing and the other 10% are about Barnet FC.
The paper has spent money getting these questions drafted up and now has to justify the expense with this "story".
The Hendon Times is a left-wing rag. 90% of stories are one-sided tory-bashing and the other 10% are about Barnet FC. The paper has spent money getting these questions drafted up and now has to justify the expense with this "story". AverageBarnetResident
  • Score: -7

11:45pm Thu 17 Jul 14

marccohen53 says...

Thank you Average Barnet Resident, there is at last a voice that speaks some sense! Barnet FC does only seem to represent 10% and whilst I am not a football fan, I am sure there are other more interesting stories to cover. Hendon Times, whilst I am sure you are very busy, please stop looking at the Labour party to draft your articles. The numbered points and legalistic nature of your article seem to point to one particular lawyer who is a prominent figure of the local Labour Party who has perhaps drafted this desperate article for you. I hope you are not paying him to do this! Although milking every penny is his forte.
Thank you Average Barnet Resident, there is at last a voice that speaks some sense! Barnet FC does only seem to represent 10% and whilst I am not a football fan, I am sure there are other more interesting stories to cover. Hendon Times, whilst I am sure you are very busy, please stop looking at the Labour party to draft your articles. The numbered points and legalistic nature of your article seem to point to one particular lawyer who is a prominent figure of the local Labour Party who has perhaps drafted this desperate article for you. I hope you are not paying him to do this! Although milking every penny is his forte. marccohen53
  • Score: -4
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