High BBC car allowances, private health costs and BBC Talent travel costs need to be explained

Further to my previous blog post on senior BBC executive pay, I have received a helpful note this morning from Keith Murray of the National Union of Journalists, pointing out some further BBC spending which raises value for money questions. Keith tells me that the BBC currently spends £3 million a year on car allowances …

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BBC boss admits manager is paid around £1 million a year, but still refuses to reveal pensions contribution which may push his pay beyond £1 million

 In a blog post on 21st November, I wrote about the level of remuneration received by BBC executives at a time of proposed 20% cuts in local BBC radio.   Today the boss of the BBC, Mark Thompson, has finally confirmed that the figures I quoted in respect of the remuneration of John Smith, CEO of …

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Fens drier than Jerusalem – even rain now unlikely to stop drought

There has been less rainfall in the East of England over the last 12 months than Jerusalem, with drought conditions officially still in place and warnings of worst to come from the Environment Agency.  With reservoirs at record low levels and long term weather forecasts predicting below average winter rainfall, the Government needs to urgently …

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Whitehall’s complacent merry-go round and what it means for our border controls

Civil servants in Whitehall continue to avoid being held accountable for failures by moving to a new job.  Such moves are not linked to the delivery of their objectives. Today’s hearing of the Public Accounts Committee on the Rural Payments Agency highlights this practice. Dame Helen Ghosh was permanent secretary of the Department for the …

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A47 Road signs could be provided by local suppliers for 99.5% less than the Highways Agency

There has been a huge response to my recent blog and subsequent appearance on the local news exposing the Highways Agency’s £30,000 estimated cost for two small signs at Thorney Toll.  It is clear that this sadly is not an isolated incident.  Many people have written to me outlining similar experiences, and shared my disbelief …

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First Friday with Steve Barclay

Local businesses often receive little flexibility from the taxman.  So you might be surprised to learn that Vodafone was given five years to settle its bills, whilst Goldman Sachs was let off tax on its bank bonuses following a private supper with the country’s top tax official.  I have been working with colleagues on the …

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Should the country’s top taxman keep his job?

Yesterday’s select committee did not start well – our country’s top tax official, Mr Hartnett, was accused of lying to Parliament by the Chair of the Public Accounts Committee (Labour MP Margaret Hodge).  Earlier a member of the Treasury Select Committee (Conservative MP Jesse Norman) had called for him to resign.  This was not a …

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Proposed changes at Whittlesey Washes could put some residents at greater risk of flooding

Significant changes to the flood barrier protection around Coates, Eastrea and Whittesey are being considered by the Environment Agency as part of their future plans for the Whittlesey Washes. The Whittlesey Washes Reservoir at the end of Endernell Lane in Coates is where water from Northamptonshire via Peterborough is held to help prevent Peterborough or Whittlesey flooding.  Whilst Morton’s Leam …

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Raising the Chatteris sorting office closure with the Business Secretary, Vince Cable MP

I have today written to the Business Secretary, the Rt Hon Dr Vince Cable MP, who has responsibility for the Royal Mail, to ask for a meeting to discuss the Chatteris sorting office closure proposal.  Despite the petition collected by Chatteris residents and the work of Chatteris Town Council, the latest statement from Royal Mail …

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Funding day for local arts and sports groups

I have identified a number of areas where North East Cambridgeshire does not receive grants for community activity, particularly when compared with other parts of the country.  As a result I have arranged a funding day to raise awareness within the local area of the grants available from bodies such as the Arts Council, Sport …

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