Council’s temporary cost-cutter claimed lightbulbs on expenses

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A COUNCIL executive claimed £1,000 a month in expenses on top of her salary – even claiming for lightbulbs.

Julie Alderson, who is thought to have been on a salary equivalent to £120,000 a year, also got money to rent a flat during her stint as interim director of resources with responsibility for cost-cutting.

But Ms Alderson charged taxpayers £11.52 for lightbulbs and batteries for her flat.

Her weekly journeys from her home in the North East to the flat in Brighouse, and her five-mile daily commute into Huddersfield were paid for by Kirklees Council.

The executive worked for Kirklees for four months to help to draw up a plan to slash its budget by £80m in the next three years, with the loss of 1,700 jobs.

Figures obtained under the Freedom of Information Act show Ms Alderson, who was hired as interim director of resources last October and left the post last month, received nearly £2,000 in living expenses in two months.

In December, 2010, and January, 2011, she claimed £694.40 for 1,736 miles travelled, as well as the costs of 11 tolls on the Tyne Tunnel at £1.20 a time.

Ms Alderson claimed £76.80 a month for parking and £390 a month for rent. She also claimed £106.22 for council tax, £85.91 for a month’s electricity, and £138.21 for meals and groceries.

A Kirklees Council spokesman, said Ms Alderson was employed on a standard interim contract commonplace in local government.

“These do cover accommodation and travel costs, but the overall cost can actually be lower than those for a permanent employee.

“For permanent staff the council pays National Insurance and pension contributions, in addition to a salary, but this did not apply to Ms Alderson.”

He said it would have cost a similar amount to pay a permanent director during this period.

He said the authority had selected someone with a wealth of experience to help it prepare for its difficult budget. He said a review would take place to see if it was appropriate in future to claim for items such as lightbulbs and batteries. Ms Alderson could not be reached for comment.