|Geoff Alltimes: because he's worth it|
I reported in April that Mr Alltimes was the 17th highest-paid CEO in the land, according to figures released by Conservative pressure group the Tax Payers Alliance. This was at least in part why I welcomed our Council's decision to merge Chief Executives with next-door Kensington & Chelsea which would, in their words, save a "pot full" of cash. It must have been a pretty big pot because Mr Alltimes' very high remuneration package was hiked by 10.8% from £185,000 to £205,000 from 2008 to 2009.
10.8 per cent. I thought that was worth repeating. That's ten point eight per cent, for the avoidance of doubt.
So what on earth are our Council doing splashing out over £7,000 on a party for someone who has been paid so handsomely already? Stephen Cowan, the Leader of the Opposition on H&F Council spoke to me this morning and had this to say:
"It's hard to understand why Conservative councillors sanctioned over £7,000 of tax payers' money to be wasted on a boozy knees-up while simultaneously cutting many local Sure Start nurseries annual budgets to just £19,000. Most residents will think that is the wrong priority to spend their hard-earned money on. These are difficult times. Given that the retiring official was the highest paid council bureaucrat in the UK and his pension is estimated to be £104,000 a year plus a lump sum, tax free 'golden goodbye' of £270,000, I am astonished that all this money wasn't paid out of private donations. Maybe Mr. Alltimes would like to donate this money back to one of the Borough's Sure Start nurseries who have suffered 90% cuts to their budgets this year?"It's hard not to think he has a point. We're all in this together, aren't we?
UPDATE TUESDAY - Well, four days later, the Chronicle eventually reported this story here. Meanwhile last night a Council spokesperson contacted me with the following statement:
“This civic event was organised to mark the departure of an outstanding public servant who dedicated 35 years of his life to serving the residents of Hammersmith & Fulham. Guests from partner organisations and councillors from across the political spectrum attended and not one penny of taxpayers' cash was spent on alcohol. This council is leading the way in slashing millions of pounds worth of waste and bureaucracy. We are the only council to be consistently improving services while cutting our historic debt burden and cutting council tax."He tells me that the real figure was £6,000 - which directly contradicts what the Council's own officials have said. They are clear it was £7,184 and in any case that would be 6,000 pounds too many!
Stephen Cowan, the Leader of the Labour Opposition that first sent me the figures which kicked the story off last week deserves the final word I think - so here it is:
"Just for the record, I want residents and senior officers of Hammersmith and Fulham Council to know that should Labour win control of the Council on 1st May 2014, I will stop all tax payers’ money being spent on parties, socials, leaving functions and other such frivolous waste. I’m more than happy for people to have leaving get-togethers which are paid for privately with their own money and happen after work hours. But that’s it".