Coun­cil­lor quits party over £1.2m ex­penses claims

Ormskirk Advertiser - - Front Page - BY JAMIE LOPEZ jamie.lopez@trin­i­tymir­ror.com @jamie_lopez1

ALANCASHIRE county coun­cil­lor has quit the Con­ser­va­tive Party af­ter speak­ing out over his col­leagues’ £1m ex­penses bill.

Dr Paul Greenall, who rep­re­sents West Lan­cashire East and pre­vi­ously served on the bor­ough coun­cil, will now serve as an in­de­pen­dent af­ter ex­press­ing dis­gust at the amount of tax­pay­ers’ money given to coun­cil­lors.

The NHS worker re­vealed that coun­cil­lors from all par­ties claimed £1.2m in al­lowances in 2016.

This fig­ure in­cludes the ba­sic £10,000 al­lowance awarded to each coun­cil­lor, as well as ad­di­tional claims such as for travel and food and drink dur­ing meet­ings at County Hall in Pre­ston.

He also called for ac­tion to be taken to stop ad­di­tional pay­ments be­ing made to party whips and sec­re­taries and claimed he was warned by mem­bers of the Con­ser­va­tives not to speak out.

Dr Greenall wanted to pass two amend­ments to tackle the is­sue – to re­move travel and food ex­penses and to scrap ad­di­tional spe­cial re­spon­si­bil­ity al­lowances.

Speak­ing to the full coun­cil, he said: “Last year, mem­bers of this coun­cil cost the tax-payer over £1.2m in al­lowances.

“Whilst I do not be­lieve coun­cil­lors should serve their com­mu­ni­ties for free, I take great is­sue with the fact that hav­ing re­ceived a ba­sic al­lowance of over £10,000, mem­bers are en­ti­tled to claim travel and sub­sis­tence, when at­tend­ing meet­ings at County Hall.

“I work in the NHS and a univer­sity, I work with peo­ple from all walks of life, and all in­come groups, but we all have two things in com­mon: When we at­tend our nor­mal place of work, we all pay our travel costs, and at meal times, we all buy our own food. Un­der HMRC rules, we can­not claim these ex­penses back.

“When politi­cians are treated dif­fer­ently to or­di­nary peo­ple, some­thing is wrong. And when politi­cians can claim ben­e­fits at tax­pay­ers’ ex­pense, ben­e­fits which tax­pay­ers them­selves can­not claim, some­thing is very wrong in­deed.”

He added: “I be­came in­volved in pol­i­tics to serve my com­mu­nity and to stand up for what I be­lieve in.

“Sadly, de­spite hav­ing a week’s no­tice of my in­ten­tion to speak on a mat­ter about which I feel very strongly, this has caused some of my Con­ser­va­tive col­leagues a great deal of angst.”

He added: “In May, I was very proud to be elected to serve my com­mu­nity, as a Con­ser­va­tive coun­cil­lor, and I told my com­mu­nity, I’d be their ‘new voice at County Hall’.

“How­ever, if I al­low my­self to be suf­fo­cated by the lu­di­crous rules which this Con­ser­va­tive group ev­i­dently in­sist on im­pos­ing, or face “con­se­quences” or “re­moval” if I do not, then my abil­ity to serve my com­mu­nity as I in­tended, would be se­ri­ously un­der­mined.

“Ev­ery­thing I say in this cham­ber, would have to be vet­ted and preap­proved, and that, would be a be­trayal, of the key pledge I gave to vot­ers. And I point-blank, refuse, to do that.”

Dr Greenall said that af­ter dis­cussing the mat­ter with fam­ily, friends and col­leagues he had de­cided to leave the party but con­tinue to serve the com­mu­nity as an in­de­pen­dent.

He con­cluded: “In short, they don’t have to threaten to kick me out, for speak­ing my mind on a mat­ter of con­science, I’ve spo­ken my mind and I quit.”

Paul Greenall plans to con­tinue in pol­i­tics as an in­de­pen­dent

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