An Apple A Day: Fabian Takes A Byte Out Of Taxpayers

A quick totting up of Fabian Hamilton’s Additional Cost Allowance for the last four years reveals that it has cost the taxpayers of North East Leeds £14,000 to keep their MP well fed.

A number of months’ expenses forms are missing from today’s releases, so either Hamilton didn’t claim anything for May & June 2006 and between January-March 2007 (ha!) or we will have to wait to see if that tab goes up. However, of the forty-four expenses claims submitted, in only nine did he fail to claim the maximum food allowance of £400; even in May 2005, when he only claims from the 6th of the month (and therefore adjusts the claim for his mortgage, utility and rates claims accordingly) Fabian still managed to get his full portion of free grub.

Taxpayers may also be interested to know that they’ve paid over £3700 to keep Mr Hamilton clean for the last four years; over £1500 to paint and decorate his house; forked out £4400 on a new boiler and service heating system (presumably he’s not carrying enough taxpayer-subsidised calories to keep him warm) ; paid four grand for the installation of a new kitchen, £1250 on two new TVs plus £350 for two DVD players (Note to self: check Hamilton doesn’t have a conjoined twin – this may be real reason why he is eating for two); furnished his home with a £439 wardrobe, a £450 chest of draws, and an £800 bed; and upgraded his windows to the tune of two and a half grand.

Then there is June 2004 when Hamilton claimed £5363.87 for “renewal of bathroom & repair caused by leaks”, £681.50 for “replacement of rotten windows in bedroom”, and £159 for “new floor tiles” – but the form has been blacked out so it’s impossible to tell whether he has spent the last few years  living in a water-damaged hovel or not.

And this isn’t bringing up how anyone can possibly claim an ‘oversight’ when their mortage claims jump from £343 one month to £1062.53 the next.

So let’s swiftly move on to the “Communication Allowance”.

There are so many claims you’d be forgiven for thinking that Fab was running his own multimedia empire and Tiberius has not yet had the time to go through all of them. However, as pointed out  by recent commenter “Charcoal”, one thing that does stand out is the number of items and services being purchased from ‘Serif Systems’ and its related ‘Pi Internet’. These include an £810 “Canon HV 20 Video Camera”,  and a £468 “video podcast 1 year account”. There are two additional payments to PI for “Homebuild Starter Self-build Website” (£549.90) and “Website update of design” (£468.83).

Now admittedly, Hamilton does have quite a decent website, but nowhere does it offer a Ricky Gervais-esque ‘podcast’. Presumably the camera is used as part of the IContactFabian service, where constituents get to see Fabian online as he solves their problems, however this can easily be done for free using services such as Skype or MSN messenger. Are there really people in Leeds so desperate to see Fabian in super high-definition they’d be willing to fork out over a grand for the privilege!?

Anyway, a quick Google search of “Serif Systems” and”Fabian Hamilton” turns up this interesting piece of information from a 1997 article in The Lawyer:

However, Hamilton, in an argument which is likely to be mirrored when the prosecution comes to court, claimed in his High Court bid before Lord Justice Brooke and Justice Gage that the allegations against him are pure technicalities.

They include complaints over alleged failure to display the company name outside Serif Systems, a computer company of which Hamilton is joint owner,and failure to disclose his previous surname, Uziel-Hamilton, to company registration authorities. [Emphasis added]

Also worthy of note are Lord Justice Brooke’s comments at that time:

In dismissing Hamilton’s High Court bid to end the prosecution moves, Lord Justice Brooke said that Hamilton had already been the subject of adverse publicity over his business affairs, including the collapse of previous companies in which he was involved. One had gone into liquidation owing £106,000 and another was wound up with debts of £60,000. [Emphasis added]

“I guess it must be tough to keep a business going when you’re not getting taxpayer funded contracts through..”, Tiberius muses, apropos of nothing.

Onto the Incidental Expenses Provision/Staff Allowance, this is a 225 page beast and Tiberius doesn’t claim to have comprehensively covered it. However,  the first page indicates another payment to PI Internet – £1715.50 for various ADSL charges; p.32 shows some invoices from Serif for PC repairs; p.63: more payments to PI amounting to £500 plus for various internet services, and another £200+ on p.84; p.116: £141, this time to Serif for fixing some ‘syncing’ problems; p.120: £116.33 to PI for more online mailboxes (must be a popular guy); £88  to Serif to repair a ‘noisy fan’ on his iMac (p.156), and £52.88 for Anti-Virus software (p.161); and finally, a whopping £761.99 to Serif for two scanners plus warranties (p.204), and £1298.39 to PI for various broadband/ADSL services (p.208). There are another three years of IEP claims to go through, but Tiberius currently lacks the stomach for it.

Now, Tiberius isn’t saying that Mr Hamilton is still involved in any way with Serif Systems (the company of which he was formerly Managing Director) or with its affiliated Pi internet (and there is no mention of either of them on the Register of Interests on TWFY.com), he’s simply pointing out how sweet it is that Fabian keeps throwing so much business their way. 

 Finally, for those worrying that their MP isn’t hip enough, it may reassure you to know that your taxes have paid for his Macbook (£799) , Iphone (£283.99), an 8GB Ipod Nano (£135.13) – and there was Tiberius thinking that Fabian would hate apples.

See also: Fabian Vs Satire; Feed Your MP; From Gravy-Train To Bread-Line

Published in: on June 18, 2009 at 11:13 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Alive And Blogging

Well Tiberius has finally recovered from whatever it was that’s kept him virtually bedridden for the last week, and, for-better-or-worse, he is going to share some of the products of his high-temperature, ibuprofen-addled mind over the last few weeks.

Thursday -after reading Inflation, Deflation and Money on Cynicus Economicus.

“Isn’t part of the confusion many people have over money (at least in English-speaking world) due to the word itself? Not only is it is an abstraction (Money is not a thing – rather it is a relationship between things) it’s also an imprecise one.

In English, “Money” is a “noncount noun”  (like ‘bread’, or ‘water’) as opposed to a “count noun” (like ‘apples’). Because with a count noun the word itself specifies it’s own quantity, you can say “I’d like one apple…two apples…three apples…etc”, but with bread (and money) you have to be a little more precise . In the case of bread, we get around this by separating bread into a count noun “loaves” – but what do we do with ‘money’?

I think part of the problem is that our word is a singular when it should be a plural. Just as Golden Delicious, Granny Smiths, and Fuji are all examples of ‘apples’; shells, gold coins, and bank notes, are all examples of ‘monies’. In a fiat-economy, it is decreed that only one of these monies shall be deemed legitimate, but – like a country who makes a law saying “Only Granny Smiths are allowed- we then pluralise the one form of money that we use (like the inhabitants of that singularly-appled country saying then saying “I want apple” to mean “I want a Granny Smith”). The more you think about it, the less sense it makes.

The other curious thing is that in languages such as Italian their word for ‘money’ ( is plural and, hence, the word retains its count noun status. Could it be that the disaster of Anglo-Saxon banking comes from an overstretched abstraction and poor grammar?

Friday – After reading that Bill for Leeds councillors expenses tops the £2m mark in the YEP:

“While it’s good that Leeds City Council is trying to be more transparent, unless someone actually does something with the data they release what is the point? You can’t just drop a mess of councillor’s expenses figures on a newspaper that shuns analysis like  What we need is some number-crunching uber geek to actually relate these numbers to something – and this geek is currently ill!”

Saturday, after posting on a discussion on Charlotte Gore’s blog:

“What is it about the word ‘Libertarian’ that people think gives them carte-blanche to make up their own definitions for it. I’m happy to concede that the word ‘anarchy’ has managed to be degraded from meaning ‘a complex political system of independent yet co-operative parties’ to, well, ‘chaos’ – but at least people acknowledge that the word used to mean something else. With ‘libertarian’ you’d think Ron Paul himself coined the term.

Sunday – after watching a presentation by Joshue Klein on The Intelligence of Crows, on TED.com:

“Couldn’t we use this same principle here in Leeds to stop pigeons despoiling all our old buildings? Why doesn’t someone invent a Pigeon Toilet that rewards the little buggers for being a little more hygienic? Surely, if we can teach them to navigate bombs and play table-tennis (seriously), we can get them to crap in a more appropriate place?”

Note: Tiberius fever had yet to break at this point. He also came up with an idea of a ‘Rat Bath’ – about which no more shall be said.

Monday – after reading The American Empire Is Bankrupton Truthdig.com:

“I wonder how far those twenty four tins of chopped tomatoes from Lidl I’ve got stashed in the basement will get me if this country goes back to a barter economy…?”

Tuesday, after reading Five arrested over counterfeit £20 notes in Leeds in the YEP:

“Isn’t it funny how much of a fuss is made when some scally-wags from South-West Leeds make five thousand pounds worth of twenties, yet when the government start ‘legitimately’ printing money to the tune of , what? millions? Barely an eyebrow is raised in the mainstream press.  I wonder which, in the long run, will have a more devastating effect on this country’s economy?”

Published in: on June 18, 2009 at 1:29 am  Comments (2)  
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Councillors-In-Shock Shock

Astonishment at bus cutbacks plan:

Leeds City Council’s deputy leader today added his voice to criticism of proposed bus service cuts by transport giant First.

Coun Andrew Carter says he is “astonished” by First’s plan to axe nearly four per cent of the services it operates in West Yorkshire from the middle of next month.

“I told you this was going to happen over a month ago!” says Tiberius – wondering how much notice our councillors require to prevent them going into shock.

Still, to Carter’s credit, he does offer the following dazzling insights into Leeds’ transport problems:

Coun Carter (Con, Calverley and Farsley) said: “These changes are a major obstacle to any strategic attempt to get more people to use public transport.

“First are rapidly becoming part of the problem and not part of the solution.”

No kidding.

But, not to be outdone on stating the bleeding obvious, Coun Chris Greaves, chairman of Metro, says:

the company “seems fixated on increasing profit levels”, rather than helping the people who rely on its services.

“My God, it’s almost as though these companies have a legal compulsion to put their shareholders’ interests ahead of the general public’s!” screams Tiberius – worrying whether the next shocking revelation from LCC might be that Ronald McDonald isn’t concerned about the health of this city’s children.

Gloom-iere

Calls to tidy up mothballed Leeds Lumiere site:

The team behind mothballed skyscraper Lumiere have been issued with a deadline to tidy up the abandoned site or they could face enforcement action.

Work halted on the £220m scheme to build twin glass towers on Wellington Street around a year ago, then developer KW Linfoot Plc went into administration in February, sparking concerns it might be scrapped completely.

Co-developer Frasers Property took over responsibility for the scheme, but while other abandoned sites in the city have been temporarily transformed into green spaces, Lumiere – in a key city-centre location – has remained a blot on the urban landscape.

See Also: Dig For Community!; Denial – Not A River Through Leeds; The Maddening Truth – Pt II

The Health Of Nations

A couple of stories in yesteday’s YEP reveal some more of the symptoms of our sick city.

More Leeds hospital cuts to bridge £15.8m gap:

DRASTIC spending cutbacks at Leeds hospitals have been introduced to try to save £15.8m.

Strict controls on filling vacant jobs, overtime and the use of bank and agency nurses have again been brought in as managers struggle to balance the books.

And there are constraints on non-essential, non-pay spending.

And that headline quite-literally, doesn’t even cover half of it:

Additional cost-cutting is needed because it did not bring in extra income by treating more patients last year, as had been budgeted for.

That means a total funding gap of just over £54m

Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust managers have identified £22.2m of savings and plans are in place to carry out extra treatments on patients which will raise £16m.

But that still leaves a funding gap of £15.8m – so the strict spending controls on staffing have been brought in while a new plan to save the cash is drawn up.

One might reasonably suspect that this gaping financial hole might have some implications for the health services for the people in Leeds –  a concern raised at a recent meeting:

Trust board non-executive director Mark Abrahams told a meeting of hospital directors: “This recruitment freeze has got to bite much harder and much deeper if its going to deliver what we need.

“What implications does that have for the level of service?”

[Trust finance director Neil Chapman] said the answer was that they had to maintain quality.

“Well, glad that’s been cleared up!” says Tiberius – while disinfecting his house and coverting the small bedroom into a make-shift Operating Theatre.

Meanwhile, not far away the University of Leeds is doing its best to ensure that the city’s medical care will be poor even into the future:

Leeds lecturers fear job axe repercussions:

VITAL training and health research will be lost because of budget cuts, university lecturers have claimed.

About 80 jobs are at risk at the University of Leeds as part of a restructuring exercise – up to 60 of them in the Biological Sciences department, and another 20 in the Healthcare faculty.

Yesterday, members of the Leeds branch of the University and College Union (UCU) protested against the plans on the steps of the student union building in Woodhouse.

“These plans are sheer madness,” said UCU spokesman Prof Malcolm Povey, Professor of Food Physics at the university. “We are talking about people who are researching cures for cancer, and nurse training for frontline staff in the NHS.”

And Tiberius suspects even the health-care provisions for ‘sheer madness’ aren’t what they used to be.

See also: Research Costs