Back at the end of February, I wrote to the office of the Police & Crime Commissioner for Thames Valley to ask when the ‘Allowances & expenses’ part of the website would be updated. (This page stated that it would “hold information on the allowances and expenses paid to each relevant office holder (the Police and Crime Commissioner and his Deputy). This will be updated on a quarterly basis”. )
I wrote again recently, idly wondering how PCC Stansfeld’s expenses were now working out. I was also prompted by the interesting case of the Cumbria PCC…
Specifically I asked:
Please could you let me have a copy of all of the travel costs incurred by PCC since he was appointed (specifically for the period from 22/11/12 to the end of the financial year 31/3/13). In particular I would like to know
1) Train fares: dates, cost, journey, class of travel etc.
2) Car travel where the PCC was at the steering wheel and he was claiming back mileage allowance: a total ££ sum & miles travelled for each month will suffice
3) Car travel where the PCC was being driven by an employee of the OPCC/constabulary: schedule of journeys made, purpose of the trip and cost to the taxpayer for each one.
Please can you also confirm that the PCC is not incurring any expense to the taxpayer for his travel between his home in West Berkshire and his main place of work in Kidlington, and that his commuting expenses reflect the policy of the HMRC (http://www.hmrc.gov.uk/helpsheets/490-chapter3.pdf).
I received a reply yesterday:
I refer to your FOI request I have set out the following details:
1) Attached is the details on train costs etc
2) Vehicle travel costs can be found on the PCC website
3) There were no journeys where the PCC was driven by employee of the OPCC/Force
Please note that from 7 February 2013 the PCC has two offices and designated places of work, one in Hungerford Police Station and the other at Police Headquarters, Kidlington. This is in accordance with HMRC guidelines and policy.I won’t bother to reproduce the train costs, but these seem all entirely as I would expect: a series of standard rail fares up and down to London etc. (But if you want a copy, just email me.) There is also not much to say about the journeys where PCC Stansfeld was being driven: there appear to be none of these. This is interesting given the efforts he went to before the election. I guess life is not always what you plan it to be…
But the expenses and the extra office did catch my eye. I am left wondering what business case was deployed to justify the public expense of creating an extra office for the PCC a few miles from where he lives? The office may or may not be staffed but it will certainly have some costs attached to it not least a desk, phone and heating of some sort. Could the PCC not have worked from home on the days when he did not need to go into his main base in Kidlington? (I know that email security is not a problem etc.)
Perhaps a clue can be found in his expenses? These can now be found on the same website (albeit a different page now…?) I referred to earlier. You know, the one where there were no expenses showing three months ago… They are showing now:
- November: 0
- December: 34
- January: 16
- February: 1005
- March: 1334
Here is an example week’s worth of mileage for Mr Stansfeld:
And here is a map of Thames Valley with ‘H’ showing you where Hungerford police station is…
I leave these facts here for you to consider. I ask you just one question:
What interest is served by the PCC now having two offices rather than one?
I agree that the facts that you've carefully established are disturbing, Jon. Since the mileage claimed is calculated on a net balance ( total miles to & from appt - journey to work), the lower the journey to work figure, the higher the mileage claimed. The "Hungerford" office looks on the surface to be a device to maximise the PCC's expenses. The difference may well equate to £40+ a week. Expenses must be legitimate, otherwise they are tantamount to an unearned gratuity. Keep digging, Jon,there can be no need and absolutely no justification for a disguised gratuity when a public servant earns a salary of over £85K per annum.ReplyDelete
Thanks for your comment, Ed. I would add that it is my understanding that PCC Stansfeld is still a councillor for West Berkshire Council (Unitary) as well. Perhaps he has office facilities in Newbury as well?Delete