Thursday, 8 January 2009

Who pays?

The Cabinet (and by that I mean the one from Westminster) is meeting in Liverpool today. And what a circus it is.

Obviously government ministers are free to go where they want. Ministerial visits are in the job description and we have had our fair share of visits up here.

But moving the whole circus for a meeting is just barmy.

I have been doing some work looking at the policing costs of the whole exercise. The cabinet did a similar day trip to Leeds a while ago and there local taxpayers have had to foot a bill which could climb to 200,000 pounds. They are trying to geet the government to pay for it all. Will they? Who knows.

What I know though is that people in Liverpool shouldn't have their taxes used to police a PR stunt by the government and the Labour party. And I am afraid it is a stunt. Politicians can do visits and listen to people without all this fuss. And to pretend this is somehow an ordinary government activity rather than a political expedition by Labour (funded in part by the rest of us) is just misleading.

The stupidist justification I heard was from Hazel Blears on the Today programme this morning. She wanted to say this meant that the politicians would be "out of westminster". Well given that most government ministers represent areas outside of London anyway, isn't what they are paid to do on a normal working week?

I don't know how much will be spent on the policing in Liverpool. I have tabled a question for the next Full Council meeting and my colleague Ian is going to raise it on the Police Authority. We should be told how much it has cost, who has paid and what the knock on effects have been for our neighbourhood policing. Will we? I hope so.

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