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Revealed... cost of councillor trips to political nights; * EXPENSES DEFENDED: Clr Khan.


TAXPAYERS forked out more than pounds 1,500 for councillors to attend party political events.

Figures uncovered by the Examiner show that eight members of Kirklees Council claimed expenses for meetings and conferences associated with their own parties.

The politicians received pounds 1,563.55 for travel, meals and hotel stays in 2011/12.

Kirklees leader Clr Mehboob Khan had the highest expenses, taking pounds 926.20 for attending 11 Labour events.

But the Greenhead man said that meetings of Labour members of the Local Government Association in London shouldn't be considered party political.

"Those are pre-meetings to events that are taking place either the following day or later that day," he said.

"We have to meet as Labour councillors on our stance on various important meetings affecting local people.

"That's the normal routine of how things work in any local government body."

Clr Khan added that he was right to claim for attending the Labour Party Conference in Liverpool last year.

"It was a useful opportunity to share good practice from around the country," he said.

"I was able to speak to shadow ministers and other local government leaders about the issues affecting Kirklees and share views on good practice."

Clr Khan explained that he met shadow chancellor Ed Balls to discuss school building while he attended Labour's new councillor event in London to give a speech to the party's freshly elected representatives.

Clr Khan added: "In every council, the leader will have the highest expenditure for business undertaken outside their own district.

"The claims are for work done on behalf of Kirklees and local residents and businesses.

"The alternative is to be much less active for Kirklees and much less able to influence decisions that are taken about our area.

"The choice is between being a council leader who works full time and one that works part time and just coasts along rather than influencing events."

The figures, released under the Freedom of * EXPENSES DEFENDED: Information Act, showed that three Lib Dem councillors claimed a total of pounds 378.20 between them for attending party conferences in Bristol and in Birmingham.

Kirklees Lib Dem leader Clr Kath Pinnock said: "At a party conference, there's the political stuff that you see on TV and then there's a whole host of training stuff that goes on.

"Last year I went to a talk run by Facebook's chief person in the UK. The council couldn't buy that stuff at any price.

"I generally go to the Royal Institute of British Architects' session on planning and building design. You couldn't get that at the council except by paying a huge amount of money."

Khan Clr Robert Light, the only Conservative member of Kirklees to claim for attending a party political event, could not be reached for comment yesterday.

Kirklees guidelines allow councillors to claim for some party political events.

According to rule 5.2 of the Members' Allowances Scheme: "For approved attendance at annual party and single-party conferences, the council will reimburse a councillor for all travel and 50% of subsistence costs if attendance is deemed part-development."

The party political claims are part of wider expenses of more than pounds 11,000 paid to Kirklees councillors in 2011/12.

The expenses are on top of the basic allowance of pounds 12,566 a year which is paid to every councillor.

Senior members of Kirklees also receive a special responsibility allowance, which ranges from pounds 1,227 for serving on the overview and scrutiny management group to pounds 25,155 for leading the council.

What was claimed ...

and by whom Clr James Blanchard (Lib Dem, Almondbury) TOTAL: pounds 230.50 Lib Dem Local Government Conference, June 17 and 18, Bristol, pounds 158 travel. Lib Dem Autumn Conference, September 17 to 21, Birmingham, pounds 72.50 subsistence. Clr Cahal Burke (Lib Dem, Lindley) TOTAL: pounds 121.45 Lib Dem Autumn Conference, September 17 to 21, Birmingham, pounds 55.20 travel, pounds 66.25 subsistence.

Clr Judith Hughes (Labour, Greenhead) TOTAL: pounds 88.60 Labour Party new councillor event, July 2, London, pounds 88.60 travel. Clr Mehboob Khan (Labour, Greenhead) TOTAL: pounds 926.20 LGA Labour Group Spring Conference, March 4 to March 6 (paid in May), London, pounds 237.22 travel, pounds 35.82 subsistence. LGA Labour leadership meeting, May 18, London, pounds 50.10 travel, pounds 19.66 subsistence. LGA Labour group meeting, May 19, London, pounds 10.60 travel, pounds 17.35 subsistence. Labour Party new councillor event, July 2, London, pounds 116.90 travel, pounds 8.67 subsistence. Yorkshire Labour leaders' meeting, July 29, Leeds, pounds 21 travel. Labour Party Annual Conference, September 25 to 29, Liverpool, pounds 256 travel, pounds 34.31 subsistence.

Meeting with Labour MP Ed Balls, November 4, Morley, pounds 13.50 travel. LGA Labour Executive, January 11, London, pounds 9.60 travel, pounds 8 subsistence. LGA Labour Executive, February 8, London, pounds 9.60 travel, pounds 3.29 subsistence. Yorkshire Labour leaders' meeting, February 24, Leeds, pounds 29.50 travel, pounds 11.66 subsistence.

LGA Labour Councillors' Spring Conference, March 10, London, pounds 7.70 travel, pounds 25.72 subsistence. Clr Robert Light (Conservative, Birstall and Birkenshaw) TOTAL: pounds 62.67 Conservative Party Conference, October 2 to 5, Manchester, pounds 18 travel, pounds 44.67 subsistence Clr Peter McBride (Labour, Dalton) TOTAL: pounds 3.45 Labour leaders' meeting, November 18, Leeds, pounds 3.45 travel. Clr Kath Pinnock (Lib Dem, Cleckheaton) TOTAL: pounds 26.25 Lib Dem Local Government Conference, June 17 and 18, Bristol, pounds 26.25 subsistence. Clr Amanda Stubley (Labour, Batley East) TOTAL: pounds 104.43 Labour Party new councillor event, July 2, London, pounds 98.60 travel, pounds 5.83 subsistence.

GRAND TOTAL: pounds 1,563.55
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Publication:Huddersfield Daily Examiner (Huddersfield, England)
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:May 31, 2012
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