Monday, 25 January 2010

Morgan's legacy leaves recurring hangovers

Rhodri Morgan only left a short while ago, and now we find that civil service sleaze lingers on to affect Carwyn Jones' administration. WAG staffing has always managed to raise the odd eyebrow in the media, but when is someone going to take control of a problem that has been in the making since Rhodri's bonfire, nearly four years ago?

Welsh Assembly Government staff relocating to the Llandudno Junction base are to be given thousands of pounds of tax payers’ money in “disruption allowances”.

Staff who were employed by WAG on February 23 2005 and are in a post transferring to the new office will be eligible for the allowance, which ranges from £750 to £2,500.

Clwyd West MP David Jones has described the move as astonishing and is seeking an explanation from the Assembly.

The allowance is based on the distance of a WAG employee's current office from the new office in Llandudno Junction.

Six hundred staff are to be relocated to the new Assembly office, which is set to open this summer. They will be transferring from Colwyn Bay, St Asaph, Mold, Caernarfon and Cardiff.

Meanwhile, A source told the Western Mail: “All civil servants can claim this money, even if they live nearer the new office. For example, staff who work in St Asaph, but live in Colwyn Bay, Penrhyn Bay, Llandudno, Conwy or even Llandudno Junction itself, will be paid a £2,500 lump sum because they will no longer have to travel to St Asaph. It’s crazy.

“The other crazy thing is that the union has negotiated that it is 20 miles from St Asaph to Llandudno Junction. Why would they do this when it’s only 16 miles? The reason is that if the distance is only 16 miles, the civil servants will only get £1,500, but as they’ve agreed a figure of 20 miles it goes up to £2,500.”

The source added: “They’ve also agreed that Colwyn Bay is eight miles away from Llandudno Junction, so the staff there can claim extra allowances – it’s four miles at the most.

“This is public money. It may be within the rules – just like the MPs – but when we are coming out of the worst recession in living memory, with people who have lost their jobs being forced to travel miles extra for less pay and tough decisions having to be made in Wales due to the cut in funding from Whitehall, it’s sickening to think that hard working taxpayers are paying for this.”

A WAG spokeswoman explained: “The package for staff relocating to the new office in Llandudno Junction has been put together to recognise the impact the relocation will have on staff and their families.

“The allowance will vary depending on which office staff are currently based at.

“Allowances begin at £750 depending on the location of the office and up to £2,500 for offices further away in the North Wales region.”

The spokeswoman said the figure for the number of staff eligible for the allowance is not yet available.

An employee will need to pay the allowance back if they are no longer based at the new office within two years of it opening.

MP David Jones commented: “This is extraordinary news, and the Welsh Assembly Government has some serious explaining to do.

“In fact, some employees who presently work at St Asaph may even find it quicker and more convenient to commute to Llandudno Junction, yet they will still receive a minimum payment of £750.

“At such a difficult economic time, this is sending out the signal that WAG just doesn’t care about spending tax payers’ money prudently.

“Many people are feeling the pinch in the depths of this cold winter and will be rightly appalled.”
He added: “I will be contacting my colleagues in the Welsh Assembly and asking them to call WAG to account for this astonishing decision.”

Llandudno Junction councillor Mike Priestley was also shocked by the move.

He said: “If that’s their policy then it should be reviewed immediately.

“I can understand if employees are given a fuel allowance for the first few months if they have to travel longer distances, but giving out lump sums even if they live next door to the new office is ridiculous.

“The employees will leave the offices they are currently working in on a Friday and start at the Junction on the Monday. Where is the disruption in that?

“We are being told by the Government that we are all going to have to tighten our purse strings for the next decade.

“The Welsh Assembly should practice what it is preaching.”

Thursday, 21 January 2010

Those 'big' ideas we had, have run out! Over to you...

Is it time for a change of coalition in time to embrace a new UK government?

Thursday, 7 January 2010

Is the former First Minister finally getting down to business?

It appears that the man formerly known as First Minister - Rhodri Morgan - is on the look out for a Political Researcher.

If interested in assisting the FFM in the twilight of his Assembly career, the deadline is 20 January 2010.

Interestingly, to apply send your CV with a covering letter and an explanation as to why you are suited to this role to an 'Assembly assistant' or primarily to a Parliament based assistant.

Is Rhodri already set for the Lords, or does London still have a keen eye when it comes to overseeing his 'work'?

BBC UK Politics

BBC Welsh Politics


Welsh Political News

UK News from Times Online

Telegraph Politics


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