I had intended to give you the low down on the roof at 29 Dimond Street Pembroke Dock (Paul Sartori charity shop), but assembling all the necessary information is proving more difficult than I anticipated so that will have to wait for a few more days.
In the meantime, I have been continuing my annual trawl through the council’s books and I have unearthed a nice little gem amongst the members’ expense claims.
This concerns “The Voice of Johnston” (Cllr Ken Rowlands) who in early August 2013 slipped in a whole year’s worth of expense claims all in one go.
This despite the clear instructions on the claim form that: “Claims should be submitted no later than three months (council’s emphasis) after an approved duty has been undertaken”.
If you have the feeling that this is a case of deja vu all over again you would be right because it is just over a year since I revealed that Cllr Jamie Adams had put in a back claim stretching over four years (Perfect timing).
That article appeared on 4 July 2013 and The Voice’s claim was submitted on 5 August so he probably reasoned that what was sauce for the goose was sauce for the gander, though the adverse publicity regarding the Leader’s “poor book keeping” might have given him pause for thought.
In any case, we now know that this three-month deadline is meaningless because the Monitoring Officer has ruled that the council is under an obligation to pay any claim submitted within the statutory limitation period (six years).
However, while Ken’s book keeping might not be up to scratch, close inspection of his expense claims reveals that he is meticulous in other respects.
Indeed accuracy seems to be his watchword because he records the distance for the return trip from Johnston to the Kremlin as exactly 8.4 miles.
This is only the second time I have seen decimal points on these claim forms.
The other was ex-Cllr David Wildman whose sudden departure in March 2013 deprived us of the pleasure of seeing him before the standards committee alongside Cllr Rob Lewis for unlawful use of council computers for party political purposes.
Now you might think claiming 0.4 of a mile smacks of penny pinching, but 0.4 here, and 0.4 there, and before you know it you’re talking serious money – in this case 197 such journeys during the year = 78.8 miles x 45p = £35.46.
That said, you might think that he took precision to ridiculous lengths when he filled in the form for his trip to Cardiff on 8 February 2013.
As 199.98 x 45p comes to £89.991 this must have given the payroll staff something of a problem, so they must have been cursing him for not rounding it up to 200 miles.
And Old Grumpy must give him a black mark over his trip to St Dogmaels on 25 May 2013.
I’m afraid my limited maths (bare pass at ‘A’ level 1959 vintage) doesn’t stretch to an explanation as to why the outward journey should be 0.9 miles further than the return trip.
Given the problems Cllr Huw George – Ken’s predecessor as cabinet member for education – had with adding up his election expenses (see below), perhaps the Leader should make it a condition of Cabinet membership that they all attend a weekly ‘numeracy hour’.
After all, they are nominally in charge of the council’s £300+ million budget, so mastery of basic arithmetic would seem to be desirable, if not essential.