Crackdown on council expenses

MEMBERS of a Suffolk council have been banned from claiming first class rail travel and capped from claiming more than the public transport cost equivalent for long-distance car journeys.

Laurence Cawley

MEMBERS of a Suffolk council have been banned from claiming first class rail travel and capped from claiming more than the public transport cost equivalent for long-distance car journeys.

The restrictions are part of a new members' allowance scheme which has been drawn up by Forest Heath District Council to ensure the public is getting the best value from those it elects to represent them.

Under the new rules, members will only be able to claim 40p per mile regardless of their vehicle's engine size. If travelling by public transport they will only be able to claim for second class or cheap day fares unless there is an exceptional reason to go by first class, and even then they would need permission of the authority's chief executive.


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Claims for long car journeys will be capped at the cost of carrying out the same journey by public transport, when there is a suitable and reasonable alternative.

Council leader Geoffrey Jaggard said: “We are very, very conscious of taxpayers' money and we need to keep all of our spending under a tight rein.”

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In their report to the council, the authority's Independent Remuneration Panel, which helps the council decide how much to pay members in allowances, said: “The panel felt that it was more acceptable for train travel to normally be second class, except in exceptional cases, and to cap claims for long car journeys at the cost of public transport if this was a suitable and reasonable alternative.”

She said the new rules over travel and subsistence claims did not apply to the council's own staff.

A spokeswoman for the council said: “The rules regarding travel and subsistence for council officers are set out in their terms and conditions of employment.

“The rules for members are set by the council after considering the report of the Independent Remuneration Panel.”

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