Party Point – Dear Mr. Pickles – October 2013

John Clark writes…

First published: October 2013 – Gazette & Herald


Cropton Mill,
North Yorkshire

Department for Communities and Local Government,
Eland House,
Bressenden Place,


Dear Mr. Pickles,

You and I are miles apart in political terms. As the Leader of the Liberal Group (not the LibDems) on Ryedale District Council I have for over 10 years tried to deliver ‘your approach’ in using taxpayers’ money to provide services. We have rigorously opposed the waste of money in many areas:

  • The chauffeur driven limo for the Chair of Council.
  • Free drinks (not free to the taxpayers of Ryedale) after Full Council meetings.
  • The creation of an extra layer of Senior Management.
  • The creation of a paid Leader of Council – this has recently been followed by a Deputy Leader.
  • A 33% increase in salary on the appointment of our present Chief Executive.
  • Free meals for councillors before evening meetings – this was described as ‘essential’. Now, without the meals, there are no signs of malnutrition.
  • We discovered large amounts of unbudgeted money being spent, including hedge cutting (£5,000plus for cutting 50 yards) – this has now stopped.

All of the above has been against the controlling groups: LibDems and Independents (2003-07), Conservatives and Independents (2007 – 11) and now Conservative control. They all joined in the squandering of Ryedale Taxpayers money.

As Liberals we have not used the Council’s

  • free ink cartridges
  • free reams of paper
  • council computers

The latest waste of money is that the Council is insisting on all councillors having a council iPad. The Liberal Group and one Independent opposed these ‘Toys for Councillors’ on the following basis:

  • We all have our own computers
  • It is likely that within the next couple of years we will each have our own iPad
  • The council does not and should not provide councillors with a telephone – yet this is an equally vital tool for communication with both the public and the Council. Similarly for a car in a rural area. The Liberals don’t claim travel expenses but we believe they should be available for those that need

Imagine our horror when we were told that this isn’t a council iPad policy. It is a directive from your Local Government Department. I find it hard to believe that you are instructing councils to waste money.

At the same time as Ryedale Council is ‘forced’ to reduce waste collection and recycling levels, your government is apparently insisting on this waste of taxpayers’ money.

I realise how busy you must be but could you please find time to look into this issue. If it makes it easier my email address is Our refusal to accept council iPads means that if you email me at Ryedale District Council it will bounce back to give only my telephone number and postal address. If this is not ridiculous I don’t know what is. Can you please stop this squandering of public money; the cost must be £millions nationwide. I have made this letter public because of the strong local opposition to the long term waste of money on Ryedale District Council.

Thank you in advance.

Yours sincerely,

John Clark

(Leader of the Liberal Group on Ryedale District Council)


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