Oh dear, it looks like Tower Hamlets council’s First Class director of schools and children has been at it again. Just a couple of months after I revealed she had spent £427.50 of our money travelling first class on a train to Manchester in July, we now discover more of her reluctance to mix it with the great unwashed who pay her £116,000 a year salary.
Another answer to a Freedom of Information request here reveals she was given a £216.50 first class ticket to Nottingham on September 7 to speak at a “London Leaders” conference for something called the Virtual Reference Group. I’ve no idea what that is.
There are many reasons why people like to travel first class. One of them is because they need somewhere quiet to work. That was the reason offered by George Osborne after he was caught out travelling in style last month. The Chancellor, of course, is the man being blamed by the likes of Isobel Cattermole and her council colleagues for cuts to children’s services.
Isn’t it a bit worrying that someone at her level seems happy to spend budgets on herself while cutting it for others?
After my Manchester revelations, councillors forced Ms Cattermole to repay the difference between the standard fare she was entitled to and the first class she took. During their searches, they also spotted this Nottingham train trip because she’s had to repay that too. For the record, a standard class fare (including a seat in the Quiet Coach where it’s also easy to work in peace) would have cost about £74.
Meanwhile, the trust FoI tool has also shed some light on other intriguing transactions.
For example, this invoice:
That’s £1,260 each for three little silver pin badges awarded as a memento to those who have been the Speaker/ceremonial mayor for a year. Apparently, some then sell these gifts on eBay.
And then there’s this invoice:
That’s £600 to the world famous acting college RADA (Royal Academy of Dramatic Art) on behalf of the last Speaker, Labour’s minicab king Cllr Mizan Chaudhury. Yes, that’s right £300 an hour. The council tells me he requested the training so he could improve his public speaking.
Well, it sure didn’t make him act better…