Friday, March 16, 2012

Taxi for David Parsons, Tory leader of Leicestershire County Council

Last month I reported that the Liberal Democrat group on Leicestershire County Council had called for the resignation of the body's Conservative leader David Parsons over alleged expenses irregularities.. And informed gossip suggested that his own group was not much keener on him.

Parsons survived that crisis, but he is under renewed pressure today after the Leicester Mercury's revelation that he has cost taxpayers more than £1m in expenses and allowances over the past five years.

At a time when his council is making £74m cuts, Parsons has made extensive use of a chauffeur-driven car:
Trips included media appearances, theatre visits, cocktail parties and journeys which would arguably have been quicker or cheaper by train. 
He arrived at Radio Leicester’s studios on January 9 for an appearance on Desert Island Discs in the civic car. 
For the past three years, he has been driven to and from the Formula 1 British Grand Prix at Silverstone. 
In April, he used the car to visit Curve theatre, Leicester, for a performance of Yes Prime Minister. 
Other theatre visits included a performance of The Little Mermaid, in May 2006. 
The documents released show that in June last year, as he vied to become chairman of the Local Government Association – the most powerful role in local government – he used the car and driver to go to London to have lunch with a leading local government reporter. 
When he flies abroad on council business from Heathrow, a car usually takes him door to door. 
Other events attended in the car included drinks receptions, cocktail parties, a tour of Twycross Zoo, TV appearances and concerts.
Not surprisingly, the Liberal Democrat group spokesman David Bill has said:
"We query whether the amounts spent on travel are value for money for residents in Leicestershire at a time of cuts and austerity."
Taxi for Mr Parsons!

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