Councillors cutting costs as expense claims drop

THE cost of Edinburgh's councillors has hit a record low after they cut their expenses by more than a quarter in just one year.

Across the Capital's 58 elected representatives, expenses claims tumbled by 26 per cent in the year to the end of March 2011, to 33,672.

It means that the average claim per councillor is now only 580, which provides little more than the 540 annual bus pass that all councillors are entitled to and most claim.

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Expenses such as hotels, taxi fares and trips abroad have been reduced significantly in recent years.

The amount claimed has been gradually tumbling from the high of 88,585 in 2006/7.

Councillors say that the desire to cut costs in the current economic climate, as well as anger about the expenses bills that have been racked up in the past, has caused councillors to reduce claims.

The top claim in 2010/11 came from SNP councillor Mike Bridgman, convener of the Lothian and Borders Fire and Rescue Board. But his 1845 expenses bill was significantly lower than the top claim a year earlier, which was 4444.

His claim also covered costs relating to his role as local authority group Cosla's lead member on the UK Joint Council for Fire and Rescue Services.

Cllr Bridgman said: "I am trying to reduce a couple of these, such as travelling to London by train rather than flying, as I would have normally done in the past.

"I am surprised to hear my expenses are the largest of any councillor because I do not claim for fuel or any subsidy in my role as a councillor. When away on business representing the Scottish Fire Conveners (Forum] or Lothian and Borders then yes I may have to claim.

"Since we were elected in 2007, expenses have decreased rapidly and this administration has made a point of doing that. We have not been away on extravagant journeys; we pay heed to the fact that we are looking after taxpayers' money."

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Cllr Bridgman's expenses claim became the largest despite reducing from his 2152 claim in 2009/10.

His claims mainly related to travel and accommodation for three National Joint Council meetings in London, an awards ceremony for the fire sector in London and a Scottish Conveners Forum meeting in Aberdeen.

SNP councillor Norman Work racked up the second-highest expenses bill, at 1792, including the 544 cost of attending the National Licensing Conference in Aviemore and 405 for flights and accommodation for a trip to London to attend the Guardian Public Service Awards.

Fellow SNP councillor Tom Buchanan claimed the third largest value of expenses. But his 1718 claim had declined significantly from 4444 one year earlier.Other significant claims included council leader Jenny Dawe, in fourth place at 1567, and Lothian and Borders Police Board convener Iain Whyte, on 1438.

Councillor Phil Wheeler, the city's finance leader, said: "Members' expenses are strictly regulated and monitored.

"I am pleased to see that councillors are setting a good example by keeping their expenses low."


Alastair Paisley 552.65

Alison Johnstone 540.00

Allan Jackson 0.00

Andrew Burns 0.00

Angela Blacklock 602.82

Bill Cook 0.00

Cameron Rose 0.00

Cammy Day 0.00

Charles Dundas 540.00

Colin Keir 339.29

Conor Snowden 1055.73

David Beckett 362.87

Deidre Brock 905.31

Donald Wilson 604.96

Elaine Aitken 558.70

Elaine Morris 24.77

Eric Barry 1053.63

Eric Milligan 444.80

Ewan Aitken 540.00

Gary Peacock 580.40

George Grubb 1038.67

Gordon Buchan 540.00

Gordon Mackenzie 588.73

Gordon Munro 540.00

Iain Whyte 1437.72

Ian Perry 551.01

Jason Rust 624.84

Jenny Dawe 1567.27

Jeremy Balfour 499.00

Jim Lowrie 57.12

Joanna Coleman 540.00

Joanna Mowat 0.00

Kate MacKenzie 0.00

Lesley Hinds 540.00

Louise Lang 157.84

Maggie Chapman 540.00

Marilyne MacLaren 449.59

Marjorie Thomas 704.57

Mark McIness 540.00

Maureen Child 194.40

Michael Bridgman 1844.88

Nick Elliot-Cannon 540.00

Norma Hart 0.00

Norman Work 1791.90

Paul Edie 871.40

Paul Godzik 654.37

Phil Wheeler 403.41

Ricky Henderson 540.00

Rob Munn 834.45

Robert Aldridge 772.98

Ronald Cairns 254.71

Stefan Tymkewycz 540.00

Stephen Hawkins 39.55

Steve Burgess 540.00

Steve Cardownie 705.95

Stuart Roy McIvor 177.35

Tim McKay 921.80

Tom Buchanan 1717.98