Coun­cil probe launched into ex­penses of ex-coun­cil­lor

Non-cabi­net mem­ber’s claims for travel and meals out­stripped even that of author­ity leader

Macclesfield Express - - BY-ELECTION PREVIEW - BELINDA RYAN

CHESHIRE East is look­ing into a for­mer coun­cil­lor’s ex­penses af­ter our sis­ter paper the Crewe Chron­i­cle un­cov­ered what ap­pears to be ex­ces­sively high mileage and meal claims.

For­mer coun­cil­lor Bill Lives­ley, who lost his seat in 2015, topped the ta­ble in travel ex­pense claims for the last three years he was a coun­cil­lor claim­ing £4,516 in 2012-13, £4,324 in 2013-14 and £4,007 in 2014-15.

The Cheshire East ex­pense claims are on top of the £11,199.96 all mem­bers get for be­ing a coun­cil­lor and his spe­cial re­spon­si­bil­ity al­lowances for chair­ing com­mit­tees and other du­ties, which in 2014-15 was £7,280.

All that money comes from coun­cil tax pay­ers across the bor­ough – in­clud­ing Crewe, Nantwich and Sand­bach.

Mr Lives­ley, who rep­re­sented Bolling­ton, said: “I served on 17 com­mit­tees on be­half of Cheshire East and gave my full-time com­mit­ment work­ing 40/50 hours per week in­clud­ing evenings and week­end work.”

For his last three years on Cheshire East, the Con­ser­va­tive coun­cil­lor claimed more than the then-coun­cil leader – in his fi­nal year claim­ing £1,370 more than Michael Jones for travel ex­penses, de­spite not hav­ing any cabi­net re­spon­si­bil­i­ties.

Among the claims the Chron­i­cle has queried with the coun­cil and Mr Lives­ley, were 60 re­turn trips from his Mac­cles­field home to coun­cil meet­ings in Sand­bach where he claimed 47 miles each time, when the di­rect route is 32 miles.

This ex­tra mileage cost Cheshire East coun­cil tax pay­ers an ad­di­tional £405.

Mr Lives­ley jus­ti­fied this ex­tra ex­pense by say­ing he took a longer route to Sand­bach 60 times to avoid traf­fic.

He also made 219 re­turn trips to his Bolling­ton ward from his home claim­ing 16 miles each time when, ac­cord­ing to Google and the AA route fin­der, it is less than 10 miles.

At 45p a mile, this cost the coun­cil tax payer an ex­tra £591.30.

There were also 84 re­turn trips from the Con­ser­va­tive coun­cil­lor’s Mac­cles­field home to places in Mac­cles­field – such as the town hall, when he claimed 12 miles each time.

Mr Lives­ley said the ex­tra miles on the 219 Bolling­ton trips and the 84 Mac­cles­field trips took into ac­count the fact he would take var­i­ous routes and he might check out plan­ning ap­pli­ca­tion sites en-route, call in on con­stituents to deal with var­i­ous matters or look at coun­cil is­sues such as blocked drains.

The Chron­i­cle also iden­ti­fied a num­ber of days when Mr Lives­ley made nu­mer­ous claims on the same day for trav­el­ling – such as June 4, 2014, when he claimed a re­turn trip of 54 miles from Mac­cles­field to Nantwich, then a re­turn trip of 47 miles from Mac­cles­field to Sand­bach and then a re­turn trip from his home in Mac­cles­field to Mac­cles­field Town Hall of 12 miles, but also claimed for break­fast and lunch al­low- an­ces for that day, to­talling £13.70, be­cause, ac­cord­ing to his meal ex­pense claim sheets, he was away from home from 8am to 4.30pm.

Mr Lives­ley said that this was be­cause he left home at 7am and then went to a meet­ing in Sand­bach 1pm and a meet­ing at Mac­cles­field Town Hall at 2.45pm, so he bought meals and ate in a lay-by.

The Chron­i­cle put in a Free­dom of In­for­ma­tion re­quest for Mr Lives­ley’s ex­pense sheets from 2014/15 – the last year he was a coun­cil­lor be­fore los­ing his seat.

The in­for­ma­tion re­ceived last week threw up a num­ber of ques­tions – and the Chron­i­cle con­tacted Cheshire East and Mr Lives­ley.

This week Cheshire East con­firmed its in­ter­nal au­dit team would be re­view­ing Mr Lives­ley’s ex­penses fol­low­ing our en­quiries.

A coun­cil spokesman said: “All mem­bers of the coun­cil, when sub­mit­ting their ex­penses, are ex­pected to claim in ac­cor­dance with the clear rules that ap­ply to them.

“Mem­bers and of­fi­cers, when sign­ing their sub­mit­ted claims, de­clare that they have ‘nec­es­sar­ily in­curred the travel and sub­sis­tence ex­pen­di­ture for the pur­pose of en­abling me to per­form the ap­proved du­ties listed as a mem­ber of Cheshire East Coun­cil’.

“They are fur­ther ad­vised that they must de­clare that they have ac­tu­ally paid the fare and ac­crued the ex­penses claimed on the form.

“They are also ad­vised that the author­ity is un­der a duty to pro­tect the pub­lic funds.

“This mat­ter has now been re­ferred to the coun­cil’s in­ter­nal au­dit team for re­view. When that is com­pleted, the coun­cil will de­ter­mine what fur­ther ac­tion, if any, should be taken.”

For­mer Bolling­ton ward Con­ser­va­tive coun­cil­lor Bill Lives­ley

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