Archive | September, 2011

Newham Councillors Paid More Than £1.2 million in Allowances

21 Sep

Last week the Newham Recorder published a story headlined Newham councillors getting £25k each expenses, claiming that the average councillor received £24,333 to service their wards.

The story also stated that “the basic allowance for councillors newly elected last year was reduced to £9,579.”

It is a sad reflection on local journalism in Newham that neither claim is quite correct. 

The £24,333 average applies if you only count the 40 members of the council who served the full 12 months from April 1 2010 to March 31 2011. It completely ignores those who left the council at the May election and those who joined after it. This tends to inflate the average, as those 40 councillors were generally more senior. 

The basic allowance, sadly, hasn’t gone down. The reason new councillors only got £9,579 was that they didn’t serve a whole year and therefore only received a pro rata portion of the allowance.

There are plenty of reasons to attack the mayor and his cronies for their free-and-easy attitude to taking home our money, but the Newham Recorder does none of us any favours by getting the numbers wrong.

So if the Recorder got it wrong, what is the truth about councillors’ allowances?

Well, in the year ending 31 March 2011 the 61 members of the council (the mayor and 60 councillors*) collected a total of £1,221,752 in allowances and expenses. This works out at an average of £20,029 per member.

But even this doesn’t really tell the full story, as some councillors get far more than others as a result of “special responsibilities”. The top 10 earners in 2010/11 were:

  • RA WALES   80,695
  • AR BAIKIE   49,776
  • IK CORBETT   42,811
  • RJ CRAWFORD   42,811
  • U  DESAI           41,776
  • C  McAULEY   41,776
  • A  KELLAWAY   37,002
  • JH LAGUDA   33,499
  • EH SPARROWHAWK 32,809
  • CW FURNESS 32,231

Councillor Baikie’s allowance includes an additional special payment for serving 2 six-month terms as deputy mayor.

The full report on members’ allowances in 2010/11 can be found here: http://goo.gl/EGDP7

When looking at the above figures it is worth remembering, for context, that average income for a household in Newham is £27,600 a year.

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* That is 60 ‘full-time equivalents’ made up of 39 people who served a full year, 21 who served 1 April to the May election and 21 new councillors who took over their seats and served from the May election to 31 March.

 

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New Parliamentary Constituencies for Newham

13 Sep

When the Coalition came into office last year they agreed as part of their programme of government to reduce the number of MPs in the House of Commons from 650 to 600, which will save the taxpayer about £12 million a year and result in seats that are much closer together in terms of size.

The Boundary Commission, which decides on how parliamentary constituencies are made up, has produced its initial proposals for England. These include an overall reduction in MPs for London, but the  changes for Newham and the surrounding boroughs involve a slight increase in representation.

The commission found that Newham was too large for two constituencies, as both the existing constituencies (East Ham and West Ham) have electorates in excess of 86,000, which is over the maximum permitted under the new arrangements. Therefore they have proposed a West Ham and Royal Docks constituency containing nine wards, including three (Beckton, Boleyn, and Royal Docks) from the existing East Ham constituency; a revised East Ham constituency that contains six Newham wards and two wards (Clementswood and Loxford) from Redbridge, which are currently in the Ilford South constituency; and a new Stratford constituency with five wards from the north west of Newham, together with the four southernmost Waltham Forest wards.

The full list of wards for the new proposed constituencies are:

West Ham & Royal Docks constituency:

  • Beckton
  • Boleyn
  • Canning Town North
  • Canning Town South
  • Custom House
  • Plaistow North
  • Plaistow South
  • Royal Docks
  • West Ham

Stratford constituency:

  • Forest Gate North
  • Forest Gate South
  • Green Street East
  • Green Street West
  • Stratford and New Town
  • Cann Hall (WF)
  • Cathall (WF)
  • Grove Green (WF)
  • Leyton (WF)

East Ham constituency:

  • East Ham Central
  • East Ham North
  • East Ham South
  • Little Ilford
  • Manor Park
  • Wall End
  • Clementswood (R)
  • Loxford (R)

The full Boundary Commission proposals for London are here: http://t.co/aoYHPPF

Unsurprisingly, an analysis by the Guardian shows that all three seats will be safe Labour. Based on voting in the 2010 election Labour’s majorities will be 20,382 in West Ham & Royal Docks, 20,032 in East Ham and 16,926 in Stratford. The only minor surprise is that the Lib Dems will be the main challengers in Stratford (by a small margin, it has to be said).

The Boundary Commission will be holding hearings on its proposals for this part of London at East Ham Town Hall on Thursday 27 – Friday 28 October 2011. More information is available at www.consultation.boundarycommissionforengland.independent.gov.uk

You can also write with comments to Boundary Commission for England, 35 Great Smith Street, London SW1P 3BQ, or by email to london@bcommengland.x.gsi.gov.uk. The closing date for comments is 5 December 2011.