Master forger

According to receipts provided to support his expense claim, on 27 April 2001, Cllr Alwyn Luke lunched on gammon and chips at the Black Boy Inn in Caernarfon.
It seems he enjoyed it so much that he went back the day before for another go (see serial numbers on invoices below).
Cllr Luke is the Chairman of the County Council's Children and Young Persons Overview and Scrutiny Committee, which, among other things, is responsible for monitoring and developing the authority's education and child protection policies.
And, to cap it all, he is chairman of SACRE (Standing Advisory Committee on Religious Education).
Nice to know our children's well-being is in such capable hands!
He is also Chairman of the Corporate Governance Committee which is the guardian of the council's constitution.
Heaven help us!

Receipts submitted by Cllr Alwyn Luke in respect of his trip to Caernarfon in April 2001

See full report (Fit and proper persons?)



The fat of the land

Old Grumpy has just completed his annual trawl through the County Council’s books particularly the members’ expense claims.
After much patient research I have established that during the course of the financial year 1999/2000 our elected representatives, collectively, claimed subsistence allowances for meals consumed while in our service on some 780 occasions.
The booklet issued to councillors in April 1999 contains the words: “Receipts should be obtained wherever possible and attached to claims as proof of expenses incurred” (their emphasis)
It appears that, on at least 760 occasions, providing a receipt proved impossible.
Somebody in the finance department has spotted this omission and has endorsed the claim forms “no receipts”
Despite this lack of evidence of “expenses incurred” the claims have been paid.
When I took up this matter with the District Audit service I was told that the words “whenever possible” meant the requirement to provide receipts was purely voluntary.
According to District Audit the tribunes of the people are the sole arbiters of what is possible in this context and what is not.
Needless to say, I cannot agree with this view.
For a start off, subsistence payments are described in the booklet as “reimbursements”.
Reimbursement, according to my Oxford dictionary means: repay (a person’s expenses).
Clearly, if you don’t know the exact amount spent you cannot possibly know how much to repay.
Of course, you could always take it on trust that the amount claimed was the amount expended but then you would have to believe that the members frequently forked out exactly £6.37 for their lunch, which is, coincidentally, the sum described in the booklet as the maximum. (Their emphasis)
Further evidence that the provision of receipts is obligatory is to be found in the claim form itself which includes a declaration signed by the member that: “I have actually paid the fares and made the other authorized payments shown and attach receipts to support my claim.” (Their emphasis again)
Another curious fact I discovered was that, of some 780 meals consumed by the 60 members, no fewer than 107 fell victim to the knife and fork of one man: Cllr Alwyn Luke.
The story of how the great gourmand managed to tuck into eight times his share of the free grub will have to wait for another time, and, possibly, another place.