Monday, 24 February 2020

Glasgow Councillors



The Daily Record reports that several elected councillors in Glasgow have finally paid their outstanding council tax debts some of which went all the way back to 1999. 

What puzzles me is how these individuals were selected to stand as candidates in the first place.

Yet since 2017 this group of councillors have been involved in dealing with sensitive financial issues including the settlement of Glasgow's equal pay claims. 

So I very much doubt that they'll get any sympathy from the Glasgow claimants.  

 


https://www.dailyrecord.co.uk/news/scottish-news/glasgow-councillors-forced-pay-back-21542554

Glasgow councillors chased for £30k unpaid council tax by bailiffs

All have now paid the money owed but the local authority has not revealed details of whose arrears sanctioned a visit from the warrant officers.

By Paul Rodger - Daily Record

Anne McTaggart has settled her £1459 debt (Image: PA)

Bailiffs have been called in eight times to collect unpaid council tax from Glasgow City Council’s own elected representatives.

The money owed by the unnamed councillors totalled more than £30,000 since 2017.

Another politician was in arrears but paid up before debt collectors were sent round last year, it was revealed through freedom of information laws.

All have now paid the money owed but the SNP-run local authority has not revealed details of whose arrears sanctioned a visit from the warrant officers.

The total figure was £30,792.06.

The council said that since the local elections in 2017, there have been “eight separate occasions when a councillor’s council tax arrears had been forwarded to the debt management partners for collection”.

Yesterday, for the first time since the 2017 elections, all of the city’s councillors can take part in the budget vote.

Previously, a number of councillors had been unable to take part in the debate, as under Section 112 of the Local Government Finance Act 1992, elected members cannot vote on a budget if they are two or more months in arrears.

Labour councillor for Calton, Cecilia O’Lone, owed a staggering £17,520.80 when she was first elected in 2017. She says the bill has been settled.

The largest amount owed by a SNP councillor was £7128, a debt incurred by Elspeth Kerr.

Colleagues Elaine McSporran paid off £2353 owed while Anne McTaggart settled her £1459 debt.

Glasgow City Council said: “It is important that everyone that can pay, does pay.”



Glasgow - Councillors' Salaries (19/02/20)



A number of readers have been in touch, in response to yesterday's post (below), to ask what elected councillors in Glasgow are paid.

Now the answer to this question is that it depends on the job they do because the Council Leader, for example, is paid much more than a 'backbench' councillor. 

The annual salary of a backbench councillor is set nationally and currently stands at £17,470 a year - more than many of Glasgow's equal pay claimants are paid, of course.

Not just that because the £17,470 salary was set as a part-time (two thirds) salary and so scaling this up to full-time would put a backbench councillor's salary at £26,205 - more than just about every equal pay claimant in Glasgow that I can recall.

Here's what Glasgow City Council's register of interests says about my local Calton councillor, Cllr Cecilia O'Lone.

Remuneration
1) The Gladiator Programme 16 hours self employed 
2) Elected member, Glasgow City Council - £16,927

The Gladiator Programme is based in Easterhouse and aims to encourage local children to develop an active interest in exercise of all kinds.

As far as I know the programme is publicly funded, but Cllr O'Lone only registers that she is paid by the programme (on a self-employed basis) not what she actually earns in addition to her councillor salary of £17,470.

Sharp-eyed readers will note that Cllr O'Lone's councillor salary is declared as £16,927 which is wrong - the 2019/20 rate is definitely £17,470.

According to the Evening Times in May 2018 Cllr O'Lone had an outstanding council tax debt of £12,440 dating back to 1999.

The same newspaper article also noted that outstanding council tax debt was not restricted to Labour councillors only - with the SNP's Elaine McSporran and Elspeth Kerr both owing in excess of £12,000 when they were elected to public office.


 


Poor Show, Glasgow! 3 (18/02/20)



I wrote to the elected councillors in my Glasgow Calton ward about the dangerous underfoot conditions en route to Parkhead last Thursday evening. 

Two of the four councillors (Robert Connelly and Greg Hepburn) responded promptly and positively - and here's what they had to say on the subject.

Two others (Jennifer Layden and Cecilia O'Lone) did even not bother to get back to me which is quite shocking if you ask me, since taking up issues on behalf of local constituents is part and parcel of a councillor's role - for which they are paid, of course.

Yet I'll  bet they'll be all talk about the importance of 'local democracy' and the role of elected councillors when the next set of council elections comes round in May 2022.


Dear Calton Councillors 

Poor Show, Glasgow! 

Thursday 13 February 2020

I made my way to Parkhead on Thursday evening, along with thousands of other football fans, in what were very dangerous underfoot conditions due to the public footpaths en route being iced over in many places.

I would be grateful to know what you think of the situation and if you could enquire into why steps were not taken by the Council to make things safer on the night in question?

I look forward to hearing from you.

Kind regards



Mark Irvine


Councillor Robert Connelly

Dear Mark Irvine,

Thank you for your e-mail about this issue.

Recently I have been on a site visit with officers in Parkhead This visit included discussions on the general cleansing issues with our public footpaths in the area, as well as fly-tipping issues and many other issues that haven’t been dealt with effectively in the area in the past. I believe that the site visit could be the start of finding solutions to some of the problems we face.

The point you raise about icy footpaths is important. I do agree that more has to been done to make our footpaths safer during these harsh weather conditions that Glasgow is facing at the moment. I have contacted council officers to ask what had been done, if anything, prior to the football match at Celtic Park and what resources the council have for gritting our footpaths, with the same importance as our roads.

I will get back to you with further information when I receive it from officers.

Best Wishes,

Councillor Connelly 


Councillor Greg Hepburn

Hi Mark,

Thanks for your email.

It does surprise me that gritting before a major sporting event wouldn't take place. I know that during snow or hail gritting follows a priority route system (schools, hospitals etc,) but it would strike me as sensible to target events as well. I will query this if it is not already the case.

Yours,


Cllr Hepburn 


 


Poor Show, Glasgow! 2 (14/02/20)



Lots of readers have been in touch to say how much they agree with my blog post (Poor Show, Glasgow!) about the dangerous state of the pavements in Glasgow city centre on Thursday evening.

Now it's good to hear there are so many like-minded people around, but on a practical level the bigger question is what to do about it and how to make sure the same thing does not happen again.

On a practical level if you know of anyone who was injured as a result of the terrible underfoot conditions, I would urge them to seek professional advice.

Because the authorities were on notice about the weather conditions and also knew that tens of thousands of football fans would be making their way, on foot, to Celtic Park on Thursday evening - yet took no steps I could see to address the situation.

For my part I am going to ask my local councillors what they have to say and, hopefully, get some answers out of Glasgow City Council.


 


Poor Show, Glasgow! (13/02/20)



I was at Parkhead last night for the Celtic v Hearts game, but the dodgiest part of the evening was getting to and from the stadium since the pavements were all iced over and extremely perilous underfoot.

I almost 'hit the deck' myself on several occasions and witnessed several people do just that including one chap who was saved from a nasty bang on the back his head because he was wearing a backpack.

Now these freezing weather conditions were forecast in advance and the surrounding roads had all been gritted - so far too good.

Yet the public footpaths in the east end of Glasgow received no attention even though tens thousands of football fans were expected to attend the big match on foot.

I can only imagine what conditions were like for the many council staff such as Home Carers who were out pounding the streets last night looking after their clients - no doubt lots of others were affected as well.

I would be interested to know if there's been a big 'spike' in Glaswegians reporting falls and injuries as a result of the dangerous conditions, I suspect this must be the case without knowing who would collect this kind of statistic.

In any event, last night was a very poor show indeed from the B├╝rgermeisters at Glasgow City Council who deserve 'nul points' for their efforts, in my opinion.