News reaches me this morning that Cllr Manny Doku has joined the Labour party.

Six months ago, Manny was campaigning in the General Election to cut the deficit, now he has joined the party that caused the deficit both nationally and here in Harlow! You couldn’t make it up!

Manny of course, is the Councillor that has upset me more than any other in my life in politics, when in April 2009 I outed his little scheme to fleece the taxpayer of cash for taxi fares (or as he called is – his Perks) to avoid paying for parking at the town centre, he outrageously suggested that my motives were racially motivated!

In his emails at the time he showed scant regard for Harlow Taxpayers.

With attitudes like that, I almost feel sorry for Harlow Labour Party……. almost

Lib Dem Councillor Emmanuel (Manny) Doku was apparently so incensed by my previous blogs on his scheme to claim taxi journeys instead of paying £1 a day to park, just like council staff, that he has emailed me.

I won’t go into the whole email but will just focus on one sentence:

I do hope that your decision to attack me personally is not racially motivated.”

I was very annoyed when I read this.

Firstly I totally resent the inference that Cllr Doku would consider me even capable of a racially motivated attack.

Second as you will be able to see here and here there is absolutely no mention of race in my previous posts on the issue. My issue with Cllr Doku is solely his scheme to cost the taxpayer more! I now have to wonder what has caused Cllr Doku to say such a thing? Was he attempting to gag my criticism of his expenses claim by playing a “race card”?

Thirdly I have made no “personal” attack on Cllr Doku. I have simply reported the details of his scheme and expressed my disgust at such a scheme to cost the tax payer money.

In 11 years in politics I have never been so upset.

I had only just published my previous post when another Harlow Conservative Councillor drew my attention to a previous email that Manny Doku wrote just a few days ago on the same subject.

I currently have a permit to park at the civic centre car park because I needed one. Without that ‘perk’, I may have to walk (and may be late for meetings as I do have other calls on my time), or take a taxi on every occasion and claim same from the council (which will add up to more than the cost of permit, perhaps).
Again we are not staff and, like some company directors ( and I am one), do have to have some form of ‘special treatment’ because of sacrifices they tend to make in some cases.

It seems Cllr Doku likes his “perks” and considers being a Councillor makes him worthy of “special treatment”!

Perhaps Cllr Doku should be reminded, that it is a privilege to serve his community and that he already recieves an allowance for doing so. And after all as he points out, he is a “company director” as well, which I am sure remunerates him well too…..

Edited 00:12
For those that worry, like Cllr Doku, that he might be late if he walked to meetings, you may want to check a map. Cllr Doku’s published address is CM18 6DN and the Civic Centre is CM20 1WG.

View Harlow Town Centre in a larger map

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!