Sometimes I think after 32 years on the Council I think I have seen it all. Yet even I have been staggered and astounded by the results of an employment tribunal which was given yesterday which involves the Mayor. Chesterfield High School and Sefton Council.
Incredibly it appears that Sefton Council agreed to pay Joe Anderson for his paid holiday entitlement from May 2010 when he became Leader of the Council to a point in time when Chesterfield High School where he had hitherto worked.
The facts are made absolutely clear in the decision made by Judge Serota sitting in an employment tribunal which met last year but whose decision was only made public yesterday.
This is how the Liverpool Echo has today reported the findings of the Judge:
What the judge had to say
Dismissing the appeal, Judge Serota said: “[Mr Anderson] was entitled to receive almost £80,000 per annum from Liverpool for his role as elected mayor, yet also procured a payment (albeit modest) from public funds for which he provided, and was not expected to provide, any service.
“It was, more likely, considered to be a reverse form for a zero hours contract, whereby the [school] was bound to make payment of salary but [Mr Anderson] was not bound to provide any services.
“It is certainly fairly arguable that this arrangement may strike members of the public as constituting a misapplication of public monies.
“I asked Mr Morgan (Mr Anderson’s counsel) on several occasions what benefits there might be that accrued to the [school] for the payments and for preserving [Mr Anderson’s] post for an indeterminate period.
“The only answer that I received was that it gave ‘kudos’ to the school to be associated with the Mayor of Liverpool.”
Judge Serota questioned why city council lawyers were instructed to act in a personal capacity.
Mayor Anderson said the city solicitor had sent an initial letter, but that law firm Brabners had acted for him since.
The judge suggested that Mr Anderson had “not given sufficient attention” to how the arrangement “might look to outsiders”.
He said: ““What most people would consider the [school’s] desire to extricate itself from this arrangement, which could have been a public relations disaster for the school, would seem to me to be a clear example […] for ending the employment relationship with [Mr Anderson].
“I am satisfied that this is the conclusion to which the employment tribunal came and to which it was clearly entitled to come.”
There are three very worrying aspects to this case:
1. Why did the City’s legal department work for Mayor Anderson in a personal capacity?
2. Why does Mayor Anderson continue to say that he does not take as Mayor what he is entitled to although the payment of allowances table on the Council’s website shows that he earns almost to the penny the amount awarded by the Independent Review Body?
3. Why does he think that a school in a deprived part of Bootle should pay him (and did pay him) money for doing nothing?
Lastly, I have to ask, “Doesn’t Mayor Anderson think that £80,000 a year plus pension is enough?” I have never earned anything like that much.
And on a personal level last time I was up for election Labour put out an eve of poll leaflet in my ward with a headline figure of my salary and expenses from the Local Government Association. I have no doubt that they are going to do it again because they have already asked for details of my earnings and expenses to date. There was no explanation of the fact that this amount had accrued over 13 years and that for 7.5 of those years I was a senior spokesperson for the Association which involved frequent travelling and stays in London and other parts of the Country. Of course it looked like a lot of money until you divided it by 13 to get an annual sum for both salary and expenses which then looked incredibly reasonable. Of course because the leaflet was distributed on eve of poll there was no way I could not respond although my electorate did by re-electing me.
By and large I don’t criticise other people salaries or expenses. In this case however I have to say that the position taken by Mr Anderson is immoral and hypocritical. I suspect most people will if they see the whole story as revealed in today’s Echo.