My last two posts have mentioned Ron Ravenhall, who passed away last week, after years of serving as a borough councillor and in passioned support for what he stood for – and what many of his constituents wanted.
On the same day that I heard about Ron’s death, I saw a story about another Warwickshire councillor – Martin Heatley. It seems that Cllr Heatley, the Tory councillor for Nuneaton Whitestone has been over-claiming on his expenses. He was the Cabinet member responsible for the Environment, but is now responsible for Resources – in particular the ’effective use’ of them, including finance.
He has been claiming for a journey of 52 miles from his home to the Shire Hall each time (when the distance is 35 miles by road using the same method most companies do – get multimap or google maps to show the best route), he’s been using first class rail travel on public money for no apparently good reason. He’s had to repay £200 for claims that were invalid (any employer might call them ‘fraudulent’, but his pals accepted that they were accidental) – one journey was claimed for twice, and two were for a return trip to a meeting that he didn’t attend. His manner of record keeping and applying for expenses was “not complying with the authority’s reasonable requirements”.
But, he was only made to repay the £200 and issue an apology, before attending re-training on the councillors’ code of conduct and how the expense scheme works (that he should have received already). From the article, it seems he got off lightly – I’d at least expect his position as a Cabinet member to be reconsidered, particularly given that he’s responsible for finance and has clearly admitted ‘accidentally’ taking money from WCC that he wasn’t entitled to.
There’s a comment on the article from Keith Kondakor, the green activist who made complaints about Cllr Heatley’s activities, which make further allegations about how the lenient decision was arrived at – I’ve asked Mr Kondakor for more info on that, because it suggests that all is not well down at Warwick.
Addendum at 00:00 December 10: I forgot to highlight the words of Cllr Heatley as quoted in the Coventry Times article:
“I always believe in the rule of law. I have spent my whole life doing so.”
“I am from a good Christian family that believes in those rules.”
Oh, yeah. So he’s got religion and that makes it alright then?