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Tredegar Town Council - Financial Report

 

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Text Box: Title:
Tredegar Town Council. An independent view of its current and past financial spending.

Issue Date:
April 2009

Author:
Web-team, www.Tredegar.co.uk Ltd
(webteam@tredegar.co.uk)

Download Location:
http://www.tredegar.co.uk/ttc/



White-Paper
It must be raised that in the current climate of 2009 when some basic services are being cut with street lighting being turned off and refuse collections going from weekly to fortnightly collections (A service paid for by the tax payers to Blaenau-Gwent Council), do the people of Tredegar need the financial drain of another level of local government?

Indeed, the high cost (and every increasing cost) of Tredegar Town Council, the same money could indeed to used to keep the streets lights on in the town, and maybe after the recession, Tredegar would not be labeled with being the most expensive place to live in Wales anymore.

Table of Contents

Table of Contents. 2

Section 1. 3

White Paper Details. 3

What is the Purpose of This Document?. 3

Who Is This Report For?. 3

Documents Background. 3

Pre-amble. 4

Section 2. 5

The steps we were forced to take to get the accounts, and steps Tredegar Town Council took to hinder us. 5

Section 3. 14

What your money is spent on. 14

Data Analyses of Audited Accounts. 14

Increase in Council Tax paid by Residents of Tredegar to Tredegar Town Council 15

Increase in Staffing Costs by Tredegar Town Council 16

Monies given to Organisations, Groups and Clubs in the town. 17

Section 4. 20

Conclusions. 20

Summary. 20

Bullet Points. 22

Council Tax Increase for Tredegar Residence. 22

Staffing Costs Increase in Tredegar Town Council 22

Monies Given to Good Causes, Groups and Organisations (S.137) 23

Other Facts and Figures. 23

 

 

 

 

© www.Tredegar .co.uk Ltd 2009

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Section 1

White Paper Details

What is the Purpose of This Document?

This white paper purpose is to simply give pictorial representation of the audited accounts by Tredegar Town Council. Where it does question the levels of spending on certain items by the Town Council it is done with a fair and open policy, and backs up any statements in a clear and concise way usually backed by showing data and information presented by Tredegar Town Council itself. It does not try to influence the readers view on the spending of Tredegar Town Council. We are quite sure that this white paper will leave the reader with a clear understanding and view of their own after reading.

 

Who Is This Report For?

The information contained within this whitepaper is primary intended for the Council Tax payers of the town that solely maintain Tredegar Town Council. It is also relevant to the General public, any individual or organisation with an interest in the finances of a small Welsh Town Council, and indeed to all that has an interest in the town of Tredegar from around the world via the Internet. It is also intended to be made available to the media in general and also to be made available at all times via the internet for future generations to see the historic spending by Tredegar Town Council at the end of the 20th Century, and start of the 21st century.

 

You are more then welcome to distribute this white paper to all that will be interested to see the spending of Tredegar Town Council.

 

Documents Background

This document focuses on the financial information that was omitted in the first white paper that we produced in February 2008 entitled “Tredegar Town Council. An independent view of its current position, responsibilities and conduct in the rejuvenation landscape of Tredegar, South Wales, UK.”

 

This first white paper can be downloaded directly from:

http://www.tredegar.co.uk/ttc/

 

 

The first white paper has been downloaded over 5,000 times (at time of writing), and it is recommended that the first white paper be viewed before this white paper so as to give a fair and clear understanding of the roles and responsibilities of the Tredegar Town Council, this is very important.

 

 Page 3 of 23


Pre-amble

This white paper entitled “Tredegar Town Council. An independent view of its current and past financial spending.” was produced by www.Tredegar.co.uk Ltd.

 

www.Tredegar.co.uk Ltd is a non-profit, community company resisted in England and Wales. As the name applies, www.Tredegar.co.uk is internet based, and has been supplying news and information on the town of Tredegar to the world since its conception early in1991. We are not linked to any political party, and our sole intention is to promote the town of Tredegar via the internet.

 

The www.Tredegar.co.uk website has received more then 1,300,000 visitors to-date since 2003 alone, and is user driven by people from the town and indeed from around the world by people who love and support the town of Tredegar, Wales, UK.

 

 

More information can be obtained on www.Tredegar.co.uk by visiting www.Tredegar.co.uk/about_us.htm

 

 

The raw financial data presented in this paper was created by Tredegar Town Council; they are required to produce such accounts by law yearly.

 

 

If you don’t like the financial data that this white paper contains, please remember it’s not our data, its Tredegar Town Councils data.

 

 

We are simply bringing to the audience (you) how much it receives from the tax payers of the town of Tredegar, and what it spends the money on, and the increases in both over a set duration of time.

 

 

The Town Council as a organisation, or the members individually of Tredegar Town Council cannot argue with the facts or figures, simply because it’s their figures we have analysed.

 

 

 

 Page 4 of 23


 

  

Section 2

 

The steps we were forced to take to get the accounts, and steps Tredegar Town Council took to hinder us.

 

We felt it important to document the great lengths that we were forced to take to retrieve the financial information off Tredegar Town Council, and to show what steps they made not to provide the data to us as requested.

 

An attempt was made via the Freedom of Information act 2000 to obtain the audited accounts of Tredegar Town Council on the 19th July 2008. Please see below for the request for the information on the letter sent.

 

REF: Freedom of Information act 2000


In accordance with the Freedom of Information act 2000 (c.36, Schedule 1, part 2), I am requesting the following information from Tredegar Town Council.

 

  • The full, detailed audited accounts for the financial year (F/Y ending approximately 31 March 2006) for Tredegar Town Council, plus summarised account for the same period.
  • The full, detailed audited accounts for the financial year (F/Y ending approximately 31 March 2005) for Tredegar Town Council, plus summarised account for the same period.
  • The full, detailed audited accounts for the financial year (F/Y ending approximately 31 March 2004) for Tredegar Town Council, plus summarised account for the same period.
  • The full, detailed audited accounts for the financial year (F/Y ending approximately 31 March 2003) for Tredegar Town Council, plus summarised account for the same period.
  • The full, detailed audited accounts for the financial year (F/Y ending approximately 31 March 2002) for Tredegar Town Council, plus summarised account for the same period.
  • The full, detailed audited accounts for the financial year (F/Y ending approximately 31 March 2001) for Tredegar Town Council, plus summarised account for the same period.
  • The full, detailed audited accounts for the financial year (F/Y ending approximately 31 March 2000) for Tredegar Town Council, plus summarised account for the same period.
  • The full, detailed audited accounts for the financial year (F/Y ending approximately 31 March 1999) for Tredegar Town Council, plus summarised account for the same period.
  • The full, detailed audited accounts for the financial year (F/Y ending approximately 31 March 1998) for Tredegar Town Council, plus summarised account for the same period.
  • Clear indication what monies the Tredegar Town Council had in reserve for each of the years stated above (if this information is not contained in the accounts).

I require the information to be sent electronically to my e-mail address of webmaster@tredegar.co.uk

 

As per the guidance for the FoIA, I expect no personel cost for the Local Council to provide me with the details I have requested.

 

I also expect this request to be delivered within the 20 working day guidelines of the above act.

 

Rgds,

 

 

 

 Page 5/6 of 23 (on original report)


 


A letter was received from Tredegar Town Council on the 13th August 2008 outside the 20 day limit where they should reply to requests. Please take note of the following points they made:-

 

Point 1. They said in writing they were unable to show financial documents over 6 years old.
This was not correct. They later produced the aforementioned documents.

 

Point 3. They said in writing that the information will be published on our website in due course.

Again, Not Correct. The information we requested (the audited accounts) were not posted on their website as promised.

 

 Please see below for a copy of the letter we received from Tredegar Town Council.

 

 Page 7 of 23


 

We also received what I would call an unsolicited threatening letter from Tredegar Town Council, during this time when we were trying to obtain the accounts of Tredegar Town Council. The letter in question was received on the 14th August 2008, informing us that we have, and I quote, “published the name of a former colleague”. The letter was very vague, and gives no exact details. .

 

Names of the “former colleague” were not contained in the letter from Tredegar Town Council. If any information was given on the www.Tredegar.co.uk website of any members of Tredegar Town Council, it was obtained from the Tredegar Town Council website.

 

The only other member that is featured heavily on the www.Tredegar.co.uk website is that of Aneurin Bevan, who was the chief architect of the NHS. If this was subject of the letter received from Tredegar Town Council, then shame on them trying to stop the promotion of one of the towns’ great sons.

 

We personally believe that this letter received from Tredegar Town Council was an attempt to scare us off pursing the request for the audited accounts.  This of course, failed.

 

No information was removed from the www.Tredegar.co.uk website (we did not know what to move anyway?), and no other correspondence was received from Tredegar Town Council on the matter, which just strengthens our opinion that the letter was a threat because of our on-going investigations / requests.

 

The minutes of Tredegar Town Council are kept in the local library in Tredegar. These would contain details of former members of Tredegar Town Council.

 

We do wonder if Tredegar Town Council wrote to the Managing Director of Blaenau-Gwent Council as they did us, informing us that they might have committed a similar offence?

 

Also, number 10 Downing Street and Buckingham Palace have their own website giving historic details with the names of people who have taken up official public roles. Again, I wonder if they received letters off Tredegar Town Council?

 

 

Please see the next page for a copy of the letter in question.

 

Page 8 of 23


 

 

 

 

 

Above Is the Threatening / Intimidating
Letter We Received
From Tredegar Town Council

 

 Page 9 of 23


 

As per the Freedom of Information act 2000, we then raised a complaint against Tredegar Town Council because they had not supplied us with the financial records we requested and asked to be kept informed of any decision made. This is the standard procedure as laid down by the Information Commissioners office.  Below is the letter we sent out to them on the 24th August 2008.

 

You will see that we offered to speak with the Town Clerk or the Town Mayor at the time a Mr. John Morgan to see if we could stop the process of informing the Information Commissioners office of the issues. Indeed, we left our own phone number as a contact, but neither Mr Evans (the town Clerk) or Mr John Morgan made any attempt to contact us on the matter.

 

24 August 2008

 

Tredegar Town Council

Bedwellty House,

Morgan St,

Tredegar,

Gwent

NP22 3XN

 

Dear Mr Evans,

 

Thank you for your letter ref: Information under F.O.I act 2000 dated the 13th August 2008.

 

You have not supplied me with the information that I requested in the allotted time as per my rights specified with the aforementioned act, so unfortunately I am left with the decision as to report Tredegar Town Council for breaking the law as specified in the F.O.I act 2000.

 

Maybe the Town Mayor John Morgan or yourself would like the opportunity to contact me on 07XX XXX XXXX to discuss the reasoning why the information has not been released in accordance with the law of the land?

 

You will of course be aware that non-compliance may be regarded by the Court as a contempt of Court, for which the penalties are a fine or imprisonment.

 

 

 

Rgds,

 

 

 

Offers made for the Clerk or
Town Mayor to contact us failed

 

 Page 10 of 23


 

Tredegar Town Council then responded by sending the letter on the next page to us on the 27th August 2008. As you will see, they completely misunderstood the very basic procedures as laid down by the Freedom of Information act.

 

The town Clerk simply did not know the correct procedure to follow for the Freedom of Information act.

 

In the letter we received, the following points were raised.

 

Point 1.

I have informed you, as required, that Tredegar Town Council holds the information you require but only for the last 6 years – custody of Document Regulations.

 

That’s Not Correct. They did have access to the accounts, hence this white paper.

 

Point 2

The Documents will be accessible on our web-site within a reasonable time.

 

That’s Also Not Correct.  The documents requested were not placed on their web-site as stated by them.

 

Point 3.

These are the responses which have already been given to you. We have taken legal advice and have been assured we have complied with the FOI act 2000 and will robustly defend any action you seek to bring.

 

And of course that’s why the documents were delivered to us, after the Information Commissioners office threatened Tredegar Town Council with possible enforcement action if they failed to comply with our request.

 

It is also noted that copies of the letter which we received from Tredegar Town Council, was copied to  Mr Morgan, Mr Trollope and Mr Cross, so members of the Town Council were more than aware of the correspondence between us and the Town Council.

 

So no “scapegoat” when the Clerk leaves Tredegar Town Council, thanks to the letter written by the Town Clerk and copied to them.

 

The fact that Tredegar Town Council was having correspondence with us was also written in to the minutes of the Town Council so all were aware of the form of our enquiry.

 

Please see the next page for a copy of the letter in question from Tredegar Town Council.

 

Page 11 of 23


 

 

 

 

Point 1 – Not Correct, they did have access to the documents in question.

Point 3 – Again Not Correct, they did not publish the documents on their website as they promised!

 

Page 12 of 23


 

With this reply, a complaint was raised with the Information Commissioners Office on the following points:

 

  • Not giving information requested in the 20 days allowed
  • Being unhelpful with requests.

 

During this time, we were in contact with the Information Commissioners office who simply said that “Tredegar Town Council had broken the rules of the act by not supply the information in the 20 working days as specified in the act,  end of story…”

 

In the six month period that passed, the Information Commissioners office kindly kept us informed of progress of the complaint against Tredegar Town Council not supplying us with the audited accounts as requested by the Freedom of Information act 2000.

 

It came to a head when the clerk of Tredegar Town Council was informed by the Information Commissioners office that he had till the 18th February 2009 to comply with our request to supply the audited accounts to us, or enforcement action would be taken again Tredegar Town Council via the Information Commissioners office.

 

The accounts turned up two days before this cut off date.

 

The information in the remainder of this white paper is based on the data contained within the accounts received. Miraculously, although we received in writing twice from Tredegar Town Council that they do not hold data more then 6 years, all the accounts were delivered to us.

 

The Information Commissioners Office website states the following;

 

“All public authorities and companies wholly owned by public authorities have obligations under the Freedom of Information act. When responding to requests, they have to follow a number of set procedures”

 

 

After reading the last few pages on the steps we were forced to take to retrieve the information that we had the right to see, you might conclude the same as we did, that Tredegar Town Council thought that they knew better, and indeed took legal advice on the matter (as they said in their own letter). Of course, the taxpayers of the town would pay for this legal advice, but going by the correctness of this advice, we doubt it every happened.

 

They thought they knew better. However, they were wrong, very wrong.


Page 13 of 23


Section 3

 

What your money is spent on

Data Analyses of Audited Accounts

 

All the information that was retrieved via the Freedom of Information act was analysed and placed in a format that was easy to read and easy to compare spending on the same items over several years.

 

Several trends were obviously apparent straight from the start.

 

You are reminded that income Tredegar Town Council receives is primarily from the Council Tax payers of the town. No other income is obtained from any business via business tax, this goes straight to Blaenau-Gwent Council.

 

The only exceptions to this rule are:-

 

a)      Monies received from interest from the bank.

b)      Monies in the form of Grants or Lottery funds (a rare occurrence).

c)      Other small amounts raised by events (again, a rare occurrence).

 

Over 80% of all monies, as identified by the Audited accounts of Tredegar Town Council, come directly from the Council Tax payers of the town on average over the last 10 years. The payment will be itemised on the Council Tax bill produced by Blaenau-Gwent Council.   An element for the police is also itemised on the bill.

 

At Time Of Writing, The Council Tax Bill For The Residence of Tredegar Is The Highest In Wales.

 


Page 14 of 23


Increase in Council Tax paid by Residents of Tredegar to Tredegar Town Council

 

·   Between 1996 and 2006, the amount raised from the council tax payer of Tredegar has risen from £52,000 to £122,000.

  • This is an increase of over 109%!  

Page 15 of 23


 

Increase in Staffing Costs by Tredegar Town Council

 

·        Between 1996 and 2006, the amount paid in staffing costs by council tax payers of Tredegar has risen
from £24,933 to £60,182.

·        This is an increase of over 141%

 


Page 16 of 23


Monies given to Organisations, Groups and Clubs in the town

 

One of the main things that Tredegar Town Members tell the people of Tredegar is the amount of money that it gives away to clubs, organisations and good causes in the town it serves. Indeed, it’s not unusual to see a picture of a member of the Tredegar Town Council in the local press presenting a cheque to a local group. Please see here for an example.

 

The Town Council gives monies away to groups and clubs in the town via what is known as section 137.

 

The definition of Section 137 from the official Local Government website is:

Section 137 is used by an increasing number of local councils to provide a wide range of activities and encourage action by other bodies for the benefit of their inhabitants.

 

However, on inspection of the audited accounts by Tredegar Town Council, a shocking revelation is made clear.

 

On average over a ten year period, Tredegar Town Council only give away 8.1% 
of its revenue to clubs and good causes in the town via S.137

 

Indeed, this figure is even more shocking when you discover that it spends more on Office Costs (excluding salaries) 
then it actually gives away to local organisations!

 

We were in the public gallery of a Tredegar Town Council meeting in November 2008 when an application was read out by the then town Clerk from a local group asking for funding. The question was asked by a member how much “we” gave them last time, and it was decided by the Town Council (chaired by Mr. John Morgan, Mayor at the time) to give the same amount again. The amount being approximately £100 from memory.

 

No financial information was provided by the clerk before the amount was decided showing such basic things as..

 

  • Budget information showing totals for year.
  • Budget information showing spend so far this year on good causes of the town.

 

It demonstrated the complete lack of control over the amount given to clubs and organisations by the town. Maybe this is why only 8.1% of taxpayers money goes to good causes via S.137 and 50% goes on staffing costs.

 

 Page 17 of 23


 

Between the years of 1997 and 1998, the amount given to groups and organisations in the town via Section 137 dropped from the previous year by 22%

 

Between the years of 1998 and 1999, the amount given to groups and organisations in the town via Section 137 dropped from the previous year by 16%

 

Between the years of 1999 and 2000, the amount given to groups and organisations in the town via Section 137 dropped from the previous year by 42%

 

Between the years of 2002 and 2003, the amount given to groups and organisations in the town via Section 137 dropped from the previous year by 18%

 

Between the years of 2003 and 2004, the amount given to groups and organisations in the town via Section137 dropped from the previous year by 9%

 

Between the years of 2006 and 2007, the amount given to groups and organisations in the town via Section137 dropped from the previous year by 8%

 

 

 

 

Please see below for a graph of spending showing Good Causes (called s.137) and office costs of Tredegar Town Council.

 

Page 18 of 23



 

More Spent on Office Costs than
Given To Clubs and Groups in the Town (via S.137)


Page 19 of 23

Section 4

 

Conclusions

 

Summary

 

The massive increase in staffing costs which ties into the massive increase in council Tax payment to Tredegar Council tax payers must be questionable to anyone's thinking. We obtained (from the Town Council and others), a list of these activities that the council sets itself. We did not notice any substantial change of these activates during the time scale of this report.

 

Indeed, another obvious question is why have over inflation increases like the over 9% increase in Council Tax for the 2008/2009 year when the amount of money (our money) in the bank is actually going up year on year ?

 

When Tredegar Town Council for example demanded the massive 93% increase between 2001 and 2002, it already had over £56,000 in the bank, and at the end of 2003 it had over £98,000 pounds in the bank.

 

The over inflation increase by Tredegar Town Council is indeed still going on today.

 

The increase for the tax year 2009/2010 can be seen below..

 

Gwent police 4.3%
Fire service 1.5%
Abertillery community council 0%
Brynmawr town council 3.59%
Nantyglo town council 0%
Tredegar town council 5%

 

Maybe somebody from the Town Council would like to comment on why it needs an over inflation increase, greater then the Police, when it’s got a very high bank balance? But we doubt very much they would broadcast the fact they take a larger increase than the Police.

 

 

 

 Page 20 of 23


 

 

 

 

This means that Tredegar residents pay the most out of all the towns in Blaenau-Gwent, and indeed the most Council tax in Wales. Bizarre but true.

 

 

 

 

 

The next time you see or hear a claim that Tredegar Town Council gives away monies to groups and organisations in the town, please remind them that they only on average give away 8.1% on average, and they actually spend more on Office Supplies.

 

That’s a lot of pencils for somebody.

 

Over £28,000 was spent in
11 years on “General Entertainment”.


£28,000 ! Make mine a white wine please.

 

It must be raised that in the current climate of 2009 when such basic tasks are being cut with street lighting being turned off and refuse collections going from weekly to fortnightly collections (A service paid by the tax payers to Blaenau-Gwent Council) does Tredegar need the financial drain of another level of local government?

 

Indeed, the high cost (and every increasing cost) of Tredegar Town Council, the same money could indeed to used to keep the streets lights on in the town, and maybe after the recession, Tredegar would not be labeled with being the most expensive place to live in Wales anymore.


Page 21 of 23


Bullet Points

Council Tax Increase for Tredegar Residence

 

1.   The increase between 1996 to 2007 from the tax payers of Tredegar to Tredegar Town Council is from £52,000 to £122,000. This is an increase of 109% in 11 years.

2.   The inflation rate between the two dates is 33.1%.

3.   A massive increase in Council Tax bills for the people of Tredegar in 2003, with over 93% Increase.

4.   In 2003, the revenue for Tredegar Town council from the Council Tax Payer of Tredegar went up from £62,000 to £120,000 in just 12 months!

Staffing Costs Increase in Tredegar Town Council

 

1.   The staffing costs of Tredegar Town Council has risen by 141 % in 6 years.

2.   Staffing costs for Tredegar Town Council in 2001/2002 was  £24,933 pounds.
Staffing costs for Tredegar Town Council in 2006/2007 was  £60,182 pounds.

3.   Staffing costs in 2006/2007 was almost 50% of the total money raised by the Council Tax bill by Town Council.

 Page 22 of 23


 

 

 

Monies Given to Good Causes, Groups and Organisations (S.137)

 

1.   The average given over 11 years to good causes and organisations (s.137) is only 8.1% of the total revenue for Tredegar Town Council.

2.   Compare this to the 109% raise in Council Tax and the 141% rise of staffing costs.

3.   The Amount given to good causes & groups in the town has NOT gone up by the same amount as the rise imposed on the Council Tax Payers Of Tredegar.

 

Other Facts and Figures

 

1.   In seven years, the total office costs for Tredegar Town Council (excluding staffing costs) was over £84,438.

2.   In six years Tredegar Town Council has spent over £25,000 on stationery & equipment.

3.   In eleven years, Tredegar Town Council has spent almost £28,000 on general entertainment.

 

Through other correspondence, there is no evidence to show any extra responsibility placed on Tredegar Town Council in the same time scales. Please see the first white paper on Tredegar Town Council for details (visit www.Tredegar.co.uk/tcc) 

 

Page 23 of 23

end of report



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