An open letter to the Conservative Party re Brecknockshire and Radnorshire
Here in Powys we are in the midst of a recall petition in relation to the shamed MP Chris Davies who was found guilty of fraud earlier this year.
Mr Justice Edis said the MP’s actions were “highly discreditable” and it “remains shocking that when confronted with a simple accounting problem you thought the simplest thing to do was to forge documents”.*
In any other industry or business environment such an act would most likely lead to dismissal. Yet, like with many things within our political class, there is a different rule for all of you. In this instant the guilty party had the option to do the honourable thing and resign his post. However, with the backing of his party, he has elected to remain thus forcing Powys into the costly exercise of a Recall Petition. Surely in public office there is a need for those employed to be morally and behaviourally better than not more corrupt than the general populous?!
As if Powys weren’t struggling enough to make ends meet. We have already had a 9.5% council tax increase thrust upon us (FIVE TIMES the rate of inflation, which in March 2019 stood at 1.9%**).
Despite my general dislike for Mr Davies and his political actions or inactions within his constituency, I also feel slightly sorry for him as I feel he is being held as an example in a failing system that has lost its way in the eyes of the electorate. He just happened to get caught, but we know from past experiences of the (mis)use of many ‘legal’ loopholes, the 2009 expenses scandals rife across all parties, and the recent suspension of 377 MP credit cards, that politician’s innate sense of entitlement and the self serving nature of our political class seems to negate all honour and moral judgement from politicians by the time they reach the level of serving at Westminster.
An investigation by the Telegraph a decade years on from its original investigation into MPs’ expenses, found there have been 1,114 suspensions of MPs’ parliamentary credit cards since the 2015 election.***
It would be bad enough that his behaviour would cost the county a by-election, but in addition because he has the choice, we have to add the cost and inconvenience of a recall.
I have been trying to estimate the total cost of this exercise in self preservation and self entitlement. It was estimated that the recall petition in Peterborough cost about half a million pounds!****
Let’s think about it…..
- A successful recall requires signatures of at least 10% percent of the electorate; in this instance that is 5303 signatures.
That means that Powys has had to mail 53,030 letters, each in an envelope. Stationary costs, postage, personnel to stuff envelopes. Postage alone 2nd class is 58p x 53,030…….
That’s £30757 in postage alone!!!
- The petition runs from 9th May to 20th June over 6 locations., excluding Bank Holiday Monday :
5 x Mondays 9am – 5pm: 8hrs x 5 days = 40 hrs x 2people/site = 80hrs x 6 sites = 480hrs
6 x Tuesdays 8am-5pm: 9 hrs x 6 days = 54 hrs x 2 people/site = 108hrs x 6 sites = 646hrs
6 x Wednesdays 9am: 8pm: 11hrs x 6 days =66hrs x 2 ppl/site = 132hrs x 6sites = 792hrs
6x Thursdays 9am – 5pm: 8hrs x 6 days = 48 hrs x 2 people/site = 96 hrs x 6 sites = 576hrs
6 x Fridays 9am – 5pm: 8hrs x 6 days = 48 hrs x 2 people/site = 96 hrs x 6 sites = 576hrs
A total of 3070 man hours
- Then there are additional costs in staffing and postage to manage postal votes, the count and the notification of results.
So what is the total cost to our communities?
In the interests of transparency and on behalf of many other constituents in this area, I request three things from you under the Freedom of Information Act
- Details of where and how Mr Davies will be required to deliver his 50 hours of community service
- A breakdown of the costs of the recall petition.
- Information on where the money for the recall is coming from, i.e: which other budget is losing out because of it
I await your response with interest