More Openness Needed on Council Expenses
Byline: Les Reid
THOSE of you who like scandal wil be disappointed, but there was no Coventry councillor expenses' equiv alent of the MP's duck house, or even a trouser press.
While a few councillors have forged a fairly wealthy existence outside politics, the average councillor's property does not include a moat, and there's no opportunity to claim for home items apart from phone bills.
My examination last year of the uncensored expenses files of nine Coventry and Warwickshire MPs revealed a chaotic system, and wrong or questionable claims for taxpayers' money by some.
Two days of similar scrutiny in the bowels of Coventry Council House of thousands of receipts and claim forms revealed no such flaws.
It's to the council's credit that claims for a train fare to London, or a snack during the journey, were backed up with receipts showing councillors followed the rules in seeking the lowest fare possible - despite some chaotic filing that could dumbfound anybody seeking to look.
Yet, as we reported on Saturday, our investigation also uncovered about pounds 11,600 of previously undisclosed payments to councillors in 2009/10 to cover the cost of phone calls and stationery.
It's hardly the biggest example of public or private sector spending, despite apparent attempts at times by national politicians to blame the UK's deficit on town hall "waste".
But it does undermine a pledge in the council's own constitution to be "open and transparent" with the Coventry public - including about how their money is spent.
A list of councillors' allowances and expenses published on the council's website since August appears to show the total bill for each councillor. …