In Friday’s local papers they covered the fact that Ealing council has managed to take two direct debit payments from people this month (see Ealing Times story). This is a good old fashioned cock up. Someone pressed the wrong button and an old file got sent to the direct debit people (BACS). This will cause a lot of people to scratch their heads and moan about the council and a few will incur bank charges as a result of going overdrawn. The council sent the money straight back and has promised to reimburse anyone who incurs these charges. Fair enough. Some people have pointed out that the council will benefit from interest on the money. Yes, probably, but the amount is likely to be more than used up in compensating people and the extra admin involved.
I would quite like to know who pressed the wrong button but the officers close ranks in cases like this and are unwilling to give up the name. They are probably right in this case as it sounds like it was just finger trouble! Council leader Jason Stacey did the right thing by publicly apologising at the start of the council meeting last Tuesday.
Another story both papers covered was the proposed increase in allowances for all councillors including Jason. Although Jason’s allowance is going up considerably it will still only be £38,950 compared to a recommendation from the Association of Local Government that leaders should get £51,191. See Ealing Times story.
Although I work with and admire our chief executive, Darra Singh, and our executive director for finance, Richard Ennis, it is worth pointing out that Darra probably earns 4 times what is proposed for Jason and Richard probably earns 3 times Jason’s allowance. Whilst Jason was standing up to apologise Darra and Richard sat there and watched. Quite right as they are not councillors and not entitled to speak. But maybe Jason earns his cash too!