Council chiefs (including ours) make LOTS of extra money out of elections

We have never known how much EDDC’s CEO Mark Williams has received, or how he has spent his budgets. It seems that there is no barrier to telling us.

Over to you Mr Ingham…. transparency … remember?

A council chief has received nearly £150,000 in four years for being a returning officer on top of his salary, prompting calls for a review of how public officials are paid to oversee elections.

Tom Riordan, Leeds city council’s chief executive, has been paid £147,921.66 in fees since 2015 on top of his £182,085 salary, even though much of the election work was carried out during his normal office hours.

For this month’s general election he is entitled to a further £28,424, making the total fees almost a year’s salary since the 2015 general election.

The council defended the payments and said Riordan could have received even more had he not passed on to his deputies £12,754.33 for this year’s European election.

Council bosses across the country have benefited from a glut of polls in recent years, including three general elections, the EU referendum and the European election. Riordan does not receive a fee for local elections, though many chief executives do.

At Sunderland city council, which traditionally wins the race to declare the first general election result, chiefs have received a total of £140,746 since 2015. The payments, received by four holders of the post, include fees for two police and crime commissioner (PCC) elections and local elections as well as the national and European polls.

The current Sunderland chief executive, Patrick Melia, who has a salary of £180,000, received an extra £50,168 this year for local elections, a PCC vote and the European poll. He stands to get a further £10,008 for next week’s election.

Glasgow city council said Annemarie O’Donnell, its chief executive, had received £122,444.42 since 2015. She is entitled to £21,267 for next week. Her annual salary is £176,855.

O’Donnell’s total, which included a Scottish parliamentary election in 2016, was less than she was entitled to. She declined a fee for the last round of local council elections and an unspecified share of her fees was passed on to staff, charities and community groups.

According to parliamentary fee orders governing payments for returning officers, Manchester city council’s chief executive has been entitled to £94,578 for European and national polls since 2015, with £18,691 due for next week.

The council was unable to confirm whether the two officers who have held the chief executive position had received their full entitlement. Joanne Roney, who has held the role since 2017, has a salary of £205,671.

Newcastle city council confirmed that its chief executive, Pat Ritchie, had received £68,216 in fees on top of her salary, currently £183,891, since 2015. She does not receive payments for local elections but will receive £8,820 for the general election.

The payments were described as “totally unsustainable” by the TaxPayers’ Alliance. Cat Smith, who was Labour’s shadow Cabinet Office minister before parliament was dissolved, has called for a government review into the fee system.

Riordan is thought to be the best-paid returning officer in the country. Leeds is the second-largest local authority area. The largest, Birmingham, operates a pay policy that precludes chiefs from receiving returning officer fees. The entitlement is distributed to less senior staff carrying out election work.

The maximum payments available to returning officers — who are nearly always council chief executives — for national, European and crime commissioner polls are set in parliamentary statutory orders, with the sums calculated according to electorate size.

Most payments are the responsibility of the Cabinet Office, but local authorities take care of council election fees.

In January last year the Cabinet Office said the fees would be part of a wider review into election funding, which has yet to be concluded.

Leeds city council said: “Elections require those involved to work most evenings, weekends and bank holidays for a prolonged period.”

Source: Sunday Times (paywall)

EDDC had record income from parking at time Leader wanted to increase charges

Motorists all over East Devon are paying for refuse collection, council tax payers throughout East Devon will pay extra if there is no hotel in Exmouth … where will it end?

“The 2018/19 figures from the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government show a record return for the council since comparable records began in 2008/9.

A consultation has been carried out, by the council, on plans to raise hourly parking charges from £1 to £1.20. The leader of the council, Ben Ingham, has said any increases will not come into force until 2021.

A spokesman for East Devon District Council said: “East Devon District Council owns 57 car parks that currently contribute around £2.4million which is used to provide a range of essential council services including, for example, our recycling and refuse collection contract. …”

https://www.midweekherald.co.uk/news/record-high-parking-profits-for-district-council-1-6395226

Has Ingham broken purdah rules on Exmouth Queens Drive?

“Plans for a new Premier Inn for Kingsbridge and an Aldi for Ivybridge have been put on hold.

South Hams District Council were set to hold consultations with the public over the two schemes at the end of 2019, but they have now been delayed until the new year.

The delay has been blamed on the General Election being called and the pre-election Purdah period that means councils have to be careful not to do anything in public that could sway a member of the public to vote for one person or political party. …”

https://www.devonlive.com/news/devon-news/general-election-puts-premier-inn-3554630

Ingham digs a deeper hole for himself on Queen’s Drive Exmouth

“Speaking at an exhibition event outlining consultation feedback on a vision for phase three of the seafront regeneration, Councillor Ben Ingham initially claimed residents in Exmouth had a choice between the two.

The suggestion of a four-storey hotel was among those pitched for the final phase during the two-day exhibition at Ocean.

He later corrected himself, adding that if a hotel or a council tax increase were not acceptable, another alternative would have to be found to plug a £3 million gap.

The district council needs to find the money in order to pay for the realignment of the Queen’s Drive road and car park which formed the first phase of development.

Speaking after the event, Cllr Ingham said: “At the moment, the best and most credible option is the hotel but not to build it and sell it, but to build it and lease it.”

https://www.exmouthjournal.co.uk/news/exmouth-seafront-hotel-is-best-option-1-6382010

“New hotel or extra council tax must pay for Exmouth seafront revamp”

It appears someone may have been recording the meeting, so detailed are the comments. Does this rule Ingham and Blakey out of being involved in any planning application due to predetermination?

Apparently, Mr Hemmingway said Exmouth has to move from Facebook to TikTok and Ebay to Depop …

“‘Blackmail’ anger as district leader tells Exmouth to back new seafront hotel or pay more council tax for regeneration costs.

Failure to back a new seafront hotel to fund Exmouth’s regeneration could end in higher council tax, the district leader has warned.

Ben Ingham, East Devon District Council (EDDC) leader, sparked anger and accusations of ‘blackmail’ when he told Thursday’s seafront regeneration public meeting it was ‘dangerous’ to dismiss a concept to build boutique accommodation on the final phase site.

Cllr Ingham was accused of ‘foisting’ a new hotel on Exmouth and blackmailing the town to accept – using threats of higher council tax if residents failed to support a new build.

The EDDC leader’s comments were made during a presentation led by seafront designer Wayne Hemingway.

Cllr Ingham said: “We have done phase one and two, which has cost quite a lot of money. We have to cover our backs, having done that, and there are two ways.

“We can build a hotel and sell it and pay off all those debts. That would be a quick way of doing it. Personally, I am dead against that because then you no longer own that.

“If you have to do something like that perhaps you want to do it as a lease over a number of years, then you get that back. Then you have made money and all of us can take advantage of that in future projects.

“Or the money that’s already spent, we can all chip into. We have only got so many options. It’s up to you to help us to decide and as to whether we would ignore you, if you say you really don’t want a hotel that would be really dangerous.

“If that’s what you want, and you want higher council tax, we can do that.”

He added: “I am just saying, somehow or other, we have to complete this. It’s taken a long time we have made some commitments.

“Personally I wouldn’t have started the journey from where we did and we wouldn’t be where we are now, but the fact of the matter is this is where we are, and I’m saying if you don’t want a hotel we have got to come up a really good idea to replace it and when you listen to what Wayne has told us, I have gone from thinking from the beginning of this year ‘there’s no way we should have a hotel’.

“I met Wayne and listened to what he said and I thought ‘Ben you have got to think again because what he’s saying makes a lot of sense’.

“And I much prefer that from burying my head in the sand and thinking we can do something else where a lot of people, one way of the other, are going to have to pay that bill.”

Mr Hemingway said attracting the under-25s and under-35s, and their disposable income, was the way forward for Exmouth seafront’s survival, and building boutique accommodation on an area within the final redevelopment site would encourage Millennials and Gen Z to spend and stay.

He said overnight beach stays will fit in with the aesthetics of the ‘meanwhile space’, (Queen’s Drive space) which has become ‘embedded in the community’ benefiting the town.

“Don’t assume the accommodation will be a block,” said Mr Hemingway. “The whole point of the hotel is open space and the fluidity.

He added: “The opportunity is that you haven’t got a hotel that is fit for purpose in this town – and that’s the opportunity. And you have got space to put it there.
“Even with that hotel there, you have still got two-thirds of that bit of the site still for open space for kids to play. The worst-case scenario is, it will leave you with two-thirds of the space.”

Mr Hemingway said the decision to build boutique hotel accommodation lay with the community, not him as designer, adding ‘nothing that’s being proposed here is weird or dangerous – it’s just life.”

He said: “We are totally open to your responses. I can absolutely guarantee there’s no closed shop here. It’s a robust discussion between where the money comes from and what everybody wants. But do think about what people have been saying, and thinking, about the future. The taste of the world has never changed as much as it has at the moment and it’s changing for the better.

“You are not investing £18million and that fantastic – then you change it in three years and change is good. Change should be good in places like this. Young people want change.”

Mr Hemingway added: “It was Facebook and now that’s for the old people. Then it’s Snapchat and that’s gone. Then Instagram, now its Tik Tok and once it was eBay and now its Depop and that’s fantastic.

“And if you don’t know what Depop is and you don’t know what Tik Tok is, then great because young people do and life’s got to move like that, and it will continue to move like that – forever – so do something interesting.”

He said: “Using that space for a little bit of commercial and a lot of social is really where we are trying to go with it.”

Kevin Blakey, EDDC portfolio holder for economy, said: “The whole point to that hotel is this open space and the facilities that are going to go on there, whatever they maybe post-consultation, they have got to be paid for somehow.

“The district council owns the land, the district council wants to see very good quality facilities for a great many people in this space but we don’t have a magic money tree.

“We have to do something commercial to pay for it rather than borrowing, or higher taxation.

“The point is to make this place sustainable commercially and physically in the long term.”

‘Blackmail’ anger as district leader tells Exmouth to back new seafront hotel or pay more council tax for regeneration costs

Andrew Moulding joins election insults battle

Just about the only candidate who HASN’T joined the slag-fest is Claire Wright!

“Tories and Independent trade insults over former radio candidate.

Housing? Employment? Refuse collection? Regeneration of seafront towns? Any one of them could be top of the charts when it comes to issues of critical importance to East Devon. But Tory and Independent council leaders in the constituency are instead having a spat over whether ageing rocker Iggy Pop would do a better job than Conservative candidate Simon Jupp.

The former radio presenter and journalist won the selection battle to wear the biggest blue rosette at the weekend and took immediately to door-knocking to drum up support. He’s defending an 8,000 majority bequeathed to him by outgoing MP Sir Hugo Swire. But that majority itself was down from 12,000 on the 2015 election, with independent Claire Wright snatching a sizeable share of the vote.

Now East Devon District Council leader Ben Ingham, an independent, has told a local newspaper he thinks Mr Pop – who had a top 10 hit in 1986 with ‘Real Wild Child’ – would have been a better candidate. “People would be able to relate to him more than a DJ from Plymouth,” he’s reported as saying. Mr Ingham also says he’d thought of running for parliament himself because he’s disappointed by the area’s MPs.

That’s got the leader of East Devon Conservatives, Andrew Moulding, into a lather. He’s penned a 500-word response metaphorically telling Mr Ingham to wind his neck in. Being “a DJ from Plymouth [is[ not in itself a crime,” he claims (although he may not have met some of the profession in that city). If Mr Ingham thinks he can do a better job, he’s still got time to stand, he suggests. And “To compare [Mr Jupp] with Iggy Pop shows how out of touch with reality disaffected Conservative Ben Ingham actually is, stuck in some 1970’s time warp, where Simon Jupp will be nobody’s ‘Stooge’ and has a clear ‘Lust for Life’ (apologies to Iggy), working hard for residents of East Devon on both local and national issues.”

East Devon and its predecessors have been Conservative for more than a century. It’s considered a two-way battle in next month’s election between Mr Jupp and Ms Wright. “

https://www.radioexe.co.uk/news-and-features/local-news/tories-and-independent-trade-insults-over-dj-candidate/

East Devon leader Ingham “nearly stood for Parliament “

NOT in East Devon, but in Tiverton and Honiton. He has strong views on East Devon candidates:

“Independent councillor Ben Ingham told this title he seriously considered running for Parliament as a protest candidate – so dismayed is he at the performance of the area’s MPs.

He is a supporter of Ms Wright and said he would not have stood against her in East Devon, but he said he might have challenged MP Neil Parish in Tiverton and Honiton.

“That would be the obvious one or maybe Mid Devon…or even West Devon and Torridge where Geoffrey Cox is,” he said. “I think he needs to be questioned now and again, I think he’s a bit too full of himself for my liking.”

He said the aim of a campaign would have been ‘to give people the opportunity to show their disquiet at the political parties’.

All the main parties, he said, have ‘let down’ the people by failing to achieve a good Brexit deal in three years.

Ultimately, he said he decided to focus on his role as leader of East Devon District Council.

In the East Devon constituency, Conservative Sir Hugo Swire is not running again and Claire Wright, currently a county councillor, has come second in each of the last two elections.

Her opponents, announced so far, are Simon Jupp (Conservative), Henry Gent (Green), Daniel Wilson (Labour) and Eleanor Rylance (Lib Dem).

Cllr Ingham said he believes Cllr Wright is the favourite in the race.

He said: “As an Independent, I think it’s wonderful that we’ve got this chance to put an Independent in the House of Commons.”

The Woodbury and Lympstone councillor said he heard ‘last year’ MP Sir Hugo Swire planned to stand down, describing it as ‘disrespectful’ of the Conservatives to pick a candidate at such a late stage.

Of the selection of Simon Jupp, he said: “If they wanted someone charismatic, which is what I think they tried to do, they would have been better off with Iggy Pop in my opinion. People would be able to relate to him more than a DJ from Plymouth.

https://www.exmouthjournal.co.uk/news/general-election-ben-ingham-considered-standing-1-6370864