October 12: MPs face public ire over expenses - again
IT can’t be much fun being an MP.
But I’ve not got that much sympathy for them
over the expenses scandal that just never seems to go away, even if
good ones are tarnished by the antics of the minority of
unscrupulous ones who have exploited the system.
They must have come back to
Parliament thinking the worse was behind them only
to find that the only issue anyone is talking about is how much
they might have to repay.
MPs face demands to repay expenses claim
it’s not clear if any Kent MPs are among those
being asked to hand back money but it would be a major surprise if,
among 17, some aren’t pressed by Sir Jonathan Legg to do the
The question is: will they? And will they tell
us voluntarily what they’ve been asked to do without having it
dragged out of them?
Anyone listening to any radio phone-ins today
would realise quickly that the public continues to harbour huge
anger about the whole affair. I lost track of the number of callers
who repeated the refrain: “It’s one rule for them and one rule for
us” or variations on that theme.
MPs may not like handing back money; no-one
does. But surely they must realise that not doing so, or
challenging the Legg demand letter, will only see their reputations
sink even further.
A fire sale or
prudent sell-off? Gordon Brown would have us believe that the
planned sell-off of assorted public assets is the latter but I’m
not sure he has sold the message particularly well.
Disposing of the Dartford Crossing to the private sector has
already sent alarm bells ringing at County Hall, which fears that
it will effectively kibosh any plans for a third crossing as any
would-be operator will want assurances that it will be able to
continue to raise revenue without possible competition from a third
At today's KCC cabinet
meeting at County Hall, it was agreed that KCC should
write a stiff letter to transport minister Lord
Adonis raising these concerns.
There’s something of a political paradox
of having the Conservatives – for whom such activities used to be a
defining feature of their political ideology - raise misgivings
over a Labour government seen as asset stripping.
But the issue of trying to curb the public
spending deficit is one all parties are hugely conscious of, not
least as it will be a key electoral battleground at the general
I spoke today to Cllr Nick Chard, KCC’s cabinet member for
highways, about the grubby state of the Ashford
shared-space scheme and the fact that it has become badly
stained and marked in just a year.
He insists that the council is doing all it
can to remedy the situation and apparently came down on Friday to
see for himself the state of the roads and pavements.
We’ll be reporting on his thoughts later on in
the week but the signs are that we could be in for a bit of a wait
before the issue is resolved.
As to the question as to why no-one appeared
to consider how the scheme should be cleaning earlier, I think we
are none the wiser.
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