YP Letters: It's time for TaxPayers' Alliance to'¨come clean

From: Howard A Knight, Lyons Street, Sheffield.

Should council chief executives be paid extra for presiding over elections?

IT is always difficult to take seriously any demands for transparency of others from an organisation – the TaxPayers’ Alliance – which is itself rated ‘E’, the lowest ranking, for transparency by Who Funds You?, the UK campaign for think-tank transparency.

In contravention of all the appropriate standards, the TaxPayers’ Alliance fails to declare its annual income, name the funders who give more than £5,000, declare the total amount given by donors or display funding information on its own website.

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However, let us put that to one side for a moment and focus on your editorial call (The Yorkshire Post, August 20) for an urgent review of and transparency in the fees paid to returning officers who, for this purpose, are not council employees but Officers of the Crown.

That is quite insufficient. What is required is a complete review of the arrangements for the management of elections, the responsibilities, the accountabilities, and with real clarity about performance measures and appraisal and who is responsible for taking action when plans are inadequate or when things go wrong. The current partial responsibilities of the UK Election Commission in this regard are simply not fit for purpose. When such a review has been conducted and future responsibilities determined, it would be absolutely appropriate to assess and make transparent the associated payments for undertaking the work.

Perhaps The Yorkshire Post’s call for Cabinet Officer Minister David Lidington to hold a review could be widened to reflect this? And, perhaps, The Yorkshire Post might also call on the Taxpayers’ Alliance to act to secure an ‘A’ transparency rating by the end of this year? That would be fair and consistent.

From: Malcolm Naylor, Cowpasture Road, Ilkley.

YOUR report into the extortionate salaries paid to council executives evokes memories of a deputation to the full Leeds Council by Carol Brown in 2009 (The Yorkshire Post, August 20). Carol carried out research to expose the appallingly high salaries paid to executives who were carrying 
out massive cuts in services targeted at the disabled and elderly under a Labour council, I regret to say.

After Carol’s presentation, councillors expressed (feigned) shock but, of course, did nothing. If democracy is to mean anything, council tax-payers should have a say on their council tax notices to agree or not the levels of pay given to all council officials. The general undemocratic behaviour of councils must now come under democratic scrutiny and end this truly appalling abuse.

From: JKM Krawiec, Station Road, North Thoresby.

IT is very noticeable that the opaquely funded TaxPayers’ Alliance is very vocal re your story on election fees but is remarkably silent when the “supernova” salaries of the chief executives of large corporations was disclosed. Their salaries were at least 25 times that of the highest-paid council chief executive.

From: Henry Cobden, Ilkley.

WHY do council chief executives need to be paid extra for holding elections when the role of ‘returning officer’ is a legal part of their remit? They clearly didn’t want this money-making scheme being made public.

Austerity hits rural elderly

From: Daniel Vulliamy, Brigham, Driffield.

CONGRATULATIONS on an excellent thoughtful series on the problems of ageing rural communities.

It is worth remembering that most of our rural areas are under the control of Conservative local government administrations.

Also, the enormous funding cuts imposed by George Osborne which are still working their way through had nothing to do with addressing structural deficits from the world financial crash of 2008.

They actually increased the impact of austerity and were motivated by Tory obsessions with a smaller state.

The resulting cuts to library services, rubbish collection, road repairs, etc, were the direct consequence.

On top of this, rural Tory authorities have pursued policies which directly drove young families out of rural areas.

The failure to build social housing to buy or rent, the reduction of subsidies to bus services, the closure of rural schools; these are just a few of the causes for young adults to abandon rural areas with the inevitable consequences you have described.

To add insult to injury, my local authority designated some villages as “unsustainable communities” which will really help!

From: William Bewley, Malton.

GIVEN the Government’s neglect of rural areas, it’s all the more important that local leaders step up to the plate.

I’m all for One Yorkshire. We don’t want more bureaucrats, we want more effective bureaucrats, but I fear it will be a Leeds takeover and do nothing to help countryside communities.

Please could someone in authority provide the necessary reassurance. People do live and work outside the city-regions.

Virgin Trains

ON June 26, The Yorkshire Post published an open letter to Transport Secretary Chris Grayling, signed by Bill Adams, Regional Secretary, TUC Yorkshire & the Humber.

In that letter Mr Adams suggested that shareholders Stagecoach and Virgin “pocketed the profits” from the Virgin Trains East Coast franchise. Virgin Trains has asked that we make clear neither company made a penny of profit from the franchise but lost more than £200m.