Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Dave Anderson expenses - councillor's business benefits

Before going on holiday, I found a bit of time to go through the claims and receipts of Labour MPs in Gateshead. And some very interesting reading they make. So here's the first in a series of interesting highlights.

Blaydon MP David Anderson paid a company from his taxpayer funded office allowance £2056.25 in March 2006 for "consultancy, constituency office support and development, staff development, casework management, media handling and parliamentary reports."

In December 2007 a payment of £4,459 was paid to the same company, this time in connection with Mr Anderson's annual report.

The company in question is Mapset Ltd. I can reveal that the director of this company is a Mr Gary Haley, a Gateshead Labour Councillor.

He had previously been Labour candidate in my ward but at his 3rd attempt at election his vote spectacularly collapsed. He then turned his attention to Dunston Hill and Whickham East ward, a very marginal Lib Dem held seat. During his two attempts to get elected there I am pleased to say that the Lib Dem majority increased substantially.

Mr Haley then jumped wards again in July 2007 to be Labour candidate in Dunston and Teams, a safe Labour ward, which resulted in his election as councillor (it was his 6th attempt.)

I found the following description of Mapset on the Journal website from 12 August 2003:

"Mapset has built up a reputation for high-quality book design for large-scale projects in environmental publicity.

"But it also works on projects including map-based corporate publicity."

Quite how all this fits in with running a constituency office, casework management, media handling and parliamentary reports is not clear.

£6500 of taxpayers' money paid to Mr Anderson's friend's business is a great deal of money. I am a great believer in ensuring as much support as possible goes to local businesses where they are able to supply good quality goods and services at a competitive rate.

So I can only hope that Mr Anderson wanted to ensure other local businesses got a fair chance to bid for the contract. After all, I'm sure Mr Anderson would not want to be seen favouring a business run by one of his Labour chums.

So perhaps he could enlighten us as to the tendering process he used and, without giving away any commercial confidentiality, indicate how many other offers for the same work resulted from the bidding process and therefore how much was saved by opting for Mr Haley's company.
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