Monday, 29 July 2013

The MJ awards: Another taxpayer funded jolly for 2 cllrs and 18 staff

The Municipal Journal, or The MJ as it is better known, states that it is the UK’s leading weekly magazine for council chief executives and their teams of decision-makers in local authorities and allied sectors. It offers an insiders’ view of what’s going on and what people are thinking in today’s ever changing and challenging world of local politics – the latest news, incisive comment in-depth features and interviews, business analysis and the top recruitment vacancies.

They also organise the annual LGA exhibition and also run our own range of conferences, round table debates and workshops. Once a year we celebrate all that is great about local government at the prestigious MJ Achievement Awards - all of which gives local government senior executives the opportunity to meet, debate with peers, learn and network with key contacts.

The MJ held it's annual awards ceremony at the Hilton, London on the 20/06/2013. There were 15 categories of awards plus one for Best Achieving Council. Out of the 15 categories Cheshire West and Cheshire council were finalists for four awards Transformation through IT, Trading Standards and Environmental Health, Environmental Services and Democratic Services but only won one, ironically for democratic services.

They were also highly commended in another category, Environmental Services,  along with Durham County Council.

In these difficult times one would have expected the council at most to have sent a couple of representatives to collect the awards, however, they actually sent 20 people in total (2 cllrs and 18 staff), all at the taxpayer's expense.

Accommodations costs alone were £200 per person for one night Total £4,000. The table cost was £3750 which included food drink and table hire and the travel costs for all 20 travelling by train were £1327.81. Grand total £9077.81

Unfortunately this isn't the end of the matter because the council also financially supports the LGA which in turn also supports the MJ awards as do many other taxpayer funded organisations. In addition the council also supports other MJ organised events for the LGA. Furthermore, many of the other supporters of the awards are either other taxpayer funded organisations or companies with which those organisations spend even more taxpayer's money with.

Therefore the true cost of all these taxpayer funded events jollies are, when you also take all the indirect 'incestuous' funding into account, much much higher that they initially appear.

When you consider that the council recently decided to charge a foodbank some £5,000 rent it would appear somewhat insensitive to then spend double that amount on a jolly for 2 councillors and 18 staff.

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