Sandwell Councillor claims nearly £15k in expenses

! This post hasn't been updated in over a year. A lot can change in a year including my opinion and the amount of naughty words I use. There's a good chance that there's something in what's written below that someone will find objectionable. That's fine, if I tried to please everybody all of the time then I'd be a Lib Dem (remember them?) and I'm certainly not one of those. The point is, I'm not the kind of person to try and alter history in case I said something in the past that someone can use against me in the future but just remember that the person I was then isn't the person I am now nor the person I'll be in a year's time.

Joanne Watson, a Liebour councillor in Sandwell, has attracted the attention of Guido Fawkes after claiming £14,894.20 in expenses for attending 4 meetings.

One commentator suggests that she actually attended 7 meetings which, if true, brings the cost per meeting down from £3,723 to £2,127.74.

Sandwell is, of course, Councillor Bob Piper‘s patch and he’s always having a dig at councillors with their snouts in the trough.  So what does he have to say about it?  In a nutshell … nothing at all, it hasn’t even got a mention.

Come on Bob, show us you’re not just another cog in the Liebour Party propaganda machine and give your colleague the fisking she deserves.

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  1. Letters From A Tory (22 comments) says:

    How can this not be a sackable offence? Isn’t it against the law to abuse public funds in this way?!?

  2. wonkotsane (1133 comments) says:

    Someone has said that she hasn’t claimed anything (their emphasis). I’ve asked if I can quote them but no answer so far.

  3. Bob Piper (5 comments) says:

    Sorry, Stuart, I’ve been at work, some of us still have to.

    My warning was both to you and your commenters really. Jo Watson hasn’t made any claims, nor has she done anything illegal or wrong. Guido Fawkes was very sensible in not making that assertion. If you or your commenters wish to make any observations about her performance as a councillor by not turning up to committee meetings, you are welcome to do so (and I may or may not agree with you).

    However if you are, even by implication, saying she has done something deceitful, dishonest or illegal, such as the false claims submitted by Tory MP Derek Conway (as Letters from a Tory implies above, for instance) or publishing someone else writing it, then you may need extremely deep pockets and a damn good solicitor. One Tory blogger on The Stirrer site is already squirming to avoid litigation.

    If you want my personal view I think Jo should probably not have continued as a councillor for this, her final, year. She has a young baby and has had health problems herself and I know in the Autumn she was considering standing down. However, she has got on with her constituency work, but evening meetings have been very difficult for her. If she had stood down the cost of a by-election would have been more than her allowances, but in retrospect I think we may have done better not to persuade her to stay on.

    Finally, for now, despite what you allege, I couldn’t find any references on my site to what you refer to as councillors with their snouts in the trough. As one who sadly finds his snout far too close to the trough for comfort I’m not sure I’m best placed to do so. I’ll leave that to those of you who are unelectable and with your snouts pressed up against the window trying to peek inside.

  4. wonkotsane (1133 comments) says:

    Bob, thanks for the comment. I don’t think anyone has implied that she’s made illegal claims but if she’s been paid nearly £15k in expenses and only turned up to 4 meetings (whatever the reason) then that’s a lot of money.

  5. Bob Piper (5 comments) says:

    Thanks for the clarification. I agree with you.

    Just one point, councillors in most local authorities these days are paid an allowance, not expenses (the difference is critical – expenses have to be claimed, substantiated and verified) to recognise all of the things they have to do, both in the constituency, and in meetings.

    The only obligation in most councils as far as I know, is that they must turn up to a meeting every six months – which actually, a BNP councillor in Sandwell still managed to fail to do).

    Personally, I don’t think that is good enough, and if you check my attendance record it should show up as very good indeed

  6. axel (1214 comments) says:

    Times and morals change, the law, as a reflection of what is regarded as good and proper, lags behind.

    Just as owning african slaves, shooting welsh people in Chester and belief in a flat earth were legal and in some cases the law, so politicians with their snouts in the trough of public finances, may not be illegal, merely morally reprehensible but on the plus side, it is tales such as these grease the progress of change through the wheels of legislature!

  7. jameshigham (87 comments) says:

    Oh I’d love to see Bob rationalize this one away.

  8. wonkotsane (1133 comments) says:

    To be fair, Bob has been polite despite my goading.

  9. Allie (93 comments) says:

    Not only has he been polite, he’s pointed out that your headline, and the bulk of the post, are both wrong. And yet you’ve not amended them. Why not?

  10. wonkotsane (1133 comments) says:

    No, he said she hadn’t claimed the expenses, not that she hadn’t received them. Other than that there’s no indication it’s wrong. Whether she claimed £15k for attending 4 (or 7) meetings or whether she was just given it doesn’t change the fact she’s apparently doing bugger all to earn what is an average weekly wage for the majority of people in that part of the country courtesy of the taxpayer.

  11. Allie (93 comments) says:

    And your headline says she did claim them, which is obviously wrong. So, are you going to edit it? And if not, why not?

    If she’s attended meetings (and a councillor’s work involves more than attending meetings, as you may have found out had your candidacy been successful), then she’s not `doing bugger all’, is she?

    You seem to have a problem separating fact and opinion.

  12. wonkotsane (1133 comments) says:

    Do newspapers recall, pulp and re-issue their papers if there is a small error or do they print a correction? The correction is in the comments and the comments wouldn’t make sense if the original post was edited. When I need tips on blogging I’ll do something really off the wall like … I don’t know, ask a blogger.

  13. Allie (93 comments) says:

    First of all, it’s not a small error. Secondly, you’re not comparing like with like; newspapers print once, websites can be continually updated. A newspaper which found an error on its website would update that website. Thirdly, newspapers get hauled before the PCC and/or the libel courts. (Incidentally, have you seen this?

    That’s a feeble excuse, frankly. Elsewhere, you profess to be very concerned about accuracy and honesty. So why does that not apply to you? The least you could do would be to put quotations marks around the original headline.

    It’s not about blogging practice, it’s about basic fairness and decent behaviour. (And yeah, because bloggers are the repository of all wisdom and knowledge, aren’t they? [chortle!])

  14. wonkotsane (1133 comments) says:

    Allie, one of my pet peeves is when the BBC rewrite news articles because there’s new information or because it doesn’t fit in with BBC/EU/British government policy. It’s not the right way to do it. The update from Bob is in the comments and it’ll stay there.

    For someone who professes not to like blogs you certainly spend a lot of time commenting on this one.

  15. Allie (93 comments) says:

    So you’d rather the BBC didn’t rewrite the articles, and left the incorrect or out-of-date information on the web? How would that benefit anyone? Surely the point is to have the most up-to-date and accurate information available; otherwise, it might just as well be a printed newspaper. And what makes you say it’s `not the right way to do it’? They know what they’re doing; after all, they’re professional journalists, and you’re … er ……

    As I said, this is about fairness and decency. You’ve published something that’s wrong. The fair and decent thing to do would be to correct it. However, it seems that’s beyond you.

    Given your enthusiasm on another thread for producing evidence, can you come up with any for your claim that the BBC rewrites articles because they don’t `fit in with BBC/EU/British government policy’?

    It’s not that I don’t like blogs per se; I’m just amused by the over-arching self-importance of the inhabitants of the so-called `blogosphere’. As I’ve said before, when I have nothing more pressing to do, I like to wander around a few sites like this, just for chuckles. I’m rarely disappointed. However (and I’ve said this before) I come back here more often because much of your commentaries, and some of the comments, are well thought through and make good points, even if sometimes in a rather immoderate fashion. You’ll notice I only comment on the odd thread here and there. It’s elsewhere that I find the real thigh-slapping chortles; although in a couple of cases, they’re not too far from you geographically.

  16. axel (1214 comments) says:

    Hmmmmmmmmmm, her ‘expences’ are called something else?

    Like my ‘wages’ are called my ‘salary’?

    I know we have to be slaves to precision and pedantry but calling her ‘money’ , ‘expences’, makes it understandable to anyone not involved in the sordid little world of local politics, if the head line had said ‘allowances’, in my mind i would have converted it to ‘expences’ but not thought any different

    ‘A spade is a spade, after all, except when the call it a fucking shovel’

  17. Allie (93 comments) says:

    And then, of course, there are the people who can’t even read. Come on, Axel, pay attention; there’s a difference between allowances (paid automatically) and expenses (two s’s, by the way) which have to be claimed and verified. They are two different things. If your mind converts one to the other, then that says more about you than anything else.

  18. steadmancinques (34 comments) says:

    ‘Expenses’ are monies you have already paid out of your own pocket on behalf of person or organisation which you are entitled to re-coup by prior agreement; the fundamental principle is that you must actually have spent the money you are claiming.
    An allowance is a sum of money to enable you to perform some act on behalf of the person or organisation which it is believed you would not otherwise be able to carry out owing to poverty; the frequency of the acts, in this case attending meetings, has been set at at least once every six months. The £14,000 odd is a hyperbolically generous allowance, but not the fault of the particular councillor in question, unless she, too voted in favour of the scheme.
    The councillors are answerable to the electorate for this lovely big shiny trough they have voted themselves, and for the nourishing lucre the council-tax payers of benighted Sandwell have to pour into it, but would a fresh set of porcines abandon the scheme?

  19. M Anderson (47 comments) says:

    Joanne Watson, a new labour councillor in Sandwell, has claimed £14,894.20 in expenses for attending 4 meetings. “Expenses” or “allowances”? Who cares? No new labour anti English idiot should receive ANY expenses or allowances via English tax payers! Not one! What do they actually do to earn the money? What use are they? Oh they participate in quango meetings do they? Oh they go to EU rope do they? And? Let me see them perform properly. Until then they deserve nothing from the English public!

    [Piper has] pointed out that your headline, and the bulk of the post, are both wrong. And yet you’ve not amended them. Why not?

    Firstly, I am assuming that you’re a new labour loony left lunatik!
    Well you see Allie, I am of the opinion that you fight fire with fire. (I am stating this; not anyone else so if you have the balls, you can get into it with me). Anyway, how the hell can a new labour aparatchik pose such questions? In other words, I know you learnt how to deceive and talk shite through your oh so wonderful, new labour, loony left-wing, trot wimmin’s collective rainbow do group. The point being, those who lie and deceive should not whine about those who choose to TELL THE REST OF US about it! Incidentally, I find the unspoken threat of legal action amateurish! Toodle-pip female!


    your headline says she did claim them, which is obviously wrong. So, are you going to edit it? And if not, why not?

    And this ha! ha! is coming ha! ha! from ha! ha! ha! a new labour fanatik! Talk about hypocrisy!


    If she’s attended meetings (and a councillor’s work involves more than attending meetings, as you may have found out had your candidacy been successful), then she’s not `doing bugger all’, is she?

    It depends what you mean by “bugger all”. You actually think counciller’s work? AHA! HA! HA! HA! No disrespect to the decent councillors, but it’s obvious that this female is probably claiming 14,000 by not doing bugger all!


    You seem to have a problem separating fact and opinion.

    So says the new labour EU rope fanatik! When will new labour people learn?


    you profess to be concerned about accuracy and honesty. So why does that not apply to you?

    Actually, I think he’s been indoctrinated! Yeah, he read the new labour manifestered, I mean manifesto. You know, the one that new labour apparently follow? So how come they aint implemented it then?


    it’s about basic fairness and decent behaviour. (And yeah, because bloggers are the repository of all wisdom and knowledge, aren’t they? [chortle!])

    Fairness? decent behaviour? I dunno, better ask Blair and Brown, Darling, reid, Flak jacket Harman et al

    Oh you think it’s funny that bloggers have to try and get the truth out BECAUSE new labour won’t! You’re pathetic! *CHORTLE*

    And what is the point of your ranting Allie? You want to discredit an innocent blogger?

  20. Bob Piper (5 comments) says:

    Mr or Ms Anderson, if you are talking about what i wrote, I can assure you it wasn’t any sort of threat. I was merely pointing out to wonkotsane that his posting was misleading and could be construed as an allegation of dishonesty, as opposed to others who posted on this item. Frankly, I neither know, nor care if Jo Watson would take legal action, but I wouldn’t want another blogger to have to defend a libel action for an innocent mistake.

    Saying New Labour lots of times and surrounding it with cliches is really grown up though.

  21. Allie (93 comments) says:

    Ah, bless.

    Thank you, Anderson. It’s contributions of that quality that keep me coming back.

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