I was shocked and disgusted today by the scheming of a Harlow Lib Dem Councillor to rack up a mass of expenses.

In Harlow, during the budgeting process, which I have documented in this blog for you before, we decided that we should introduce a charge to park in the Council section of the Watergardens Carpark, which was previously free to Council Staff. We were not excessive; £1 a day. More than anything, since it was a tough budget year, this was about sharing the pain of the budget with the tax payers. We also decided that Councillors will have to pay too. After all thats only fair.

Now the opposition voted against our budget, and as I have detailed the Lib Dems never even put a budget on the table themselves. However today when the car parking charges started there were a flurry of emails complaining about the scheme.

What has really taken the biscuit though is that one Lib Dem Councillor – Emmanuel (Manny) Doku today sent the below email to all the Councillors and a lot of council staff:

Dear Colleagues,

Again, I must appeal to your common financial sense to rethink the proposal to charge councillors to park at the Water Gardens. The logic of my suggestion is plainly this (and I repeat what said earlier): I took a taxi to the Civic centre this morning which cost me £4.00 – one way. I shall be claiming this expenditure soon and from the Council. Had I taken another taxi home, the total would have been £8.00, which will be claimed from the Council. Since I am not happy about the charging of £1.00, and as a form of protest, I shall continue to take taxi to meetings at the Civic Centre and claim same. What this means is that instead of paying £1.00 to park, the Council will be paying out many times more that the £1.00. It does not take a rocket scientist to realise that it makes good financial sense to continue with free parking for Councillors.
I rest my case.

So lets just get this right – because Cllr Doku objects to paying £1 to park in the car park, he is going to try and land the council with an £8 a day expenses Bill!!! What makes it worse is that Council Expenses rules say that Taxi fares are reimbursable in cases of urgency or where no public transport is reasonably available, which is clearly not the case for Cllr Doku and his little scheme.

I can’t believe that to protest aginast paying a £1 a day fee that our staff now pay, Cllr Doku would rather use £8 a day more of taxpayers money via his expenses!

And lets remember that the Lib Dem Group on Harlow Council also voted against Freezing Councillors’ allowances on budget night!