This week saw the release of the Town Hall Rich List 2017. Back in 2007, compiling this research was a lot more difficult – council accounts were opaque and taxpayers couldn’t get any meaningful information on the remuneration of those who spent their money. But with our work, and the tireless campaigning of our activists, councils were forced to open up the books…
Taxpayers now can sift through council accounts for the information rather than having to send Freedom of Information requests. More transparency means more accountability – and many senior managers at local authorities have performed well in tough financial times. Some residents have seen no drop-offs in the services they receive despite the necessary savings being made. But the Town Hall Rich List also allows residents to hold to account those who have overseen failing departments, or received bumper pay-offs after poor performance in the job. After all, power should be in the hands of those who pay, not those who spend.
The Town Hall Rich List received an enormous amount of media coverage. In the national print, it was the front page story of the Daily Mail, and featured in the Sun, the Daily Mirror, the Daily Telegraph, the Metro and more. I also wrote an article in the Times (£), adding that some areas of local government are still ripe for savings.
We take great pride in getting our message to the regions, cities, towns and villages outside of Westminster. So we were pleased to see the research mentioned hundreds of times in local media. Alex went on to ITV Tyne Tees to discuss the findings and Harry Davis featured on BBC Radio Leicester, among many other appearances.
We want to say thank you to our supporters for the wealth of encouraging messages this week. It really means a lot to know that we are working with thousands of taxpayers for transparency and accountability.
In other news this week, the Times reported on one of many pernicious results of Stamp Duty. Investors are now going north to bulk buy homes and cut their bills (£) – at the expense of first-time buyers. This damaging tax must be slashed across the board.
And Dame Margaret Hodge, who joined me a for a panel discussion earlier this year, released her report into the wasteful Garden Bridge project. It was damning, to say the least – she found that it should be scrapped. I said in response that there is no justification to carry on wasting taxpayers’ money on this scheme.