Saturday, May 14, 2011

After Iain Gray takes the ‘Subway’, ex Labour MSP Frank McAveety uses an entire bus to visit constituents in deepest darkest Shettleston on expenses!!

Dear All

At the Holyrood election election Labour Candidate Frank McAveety stood on the platform of the SEEC and gave a speech about resurrection after being defeated by John Mason.

John Mason in his acceptance speech said:

“I believe in miracles”!

So do I myself and also it seems Frank McAveety, so I have come across what appears to be another ‘miracle’.

How Frank McAveety can defend his expense claims of £14,300 to hire a bus which he says he needed to meet local constituents in darkest deepest Shettleston!

I have never heard of anyone using a bus for such purposes and Shettleston the last time I was out there has roads, buildings and places like schools and community halls that an MSP could use as a surgery to meet people.

At the time of ‘miracle’ bus, McAveety, the Labour MSP for Shettleston put in claims over 3 years under Holyrood’s ‘hiring for halls and surgeries’ category,

And duly submitting invoices from a vehicle repair company named Ferrymill Motors.

The bus said to be a ageing Leyland Leopard was a type commonly in service in Scotland in the early seventies and eighties.

And when Frank wasn't driving round Shettleston, it was parked at First Glasgow Larkfield depot on Victoria Road.

I would want to know where there invoices for storage?

Who drove the vehicle?

Who paid the tax and insurance?

And what community’ events did this vehicle attended?

At present Mr. McAveety is declining to answer what these ‘community events’ were.

However, he has accused Newsnet Scotland of “factual inaccuracies” in the presentation of their piece into the bus.

He said:

“I am surprised that you intend to write an article based on a series of assumptions and factual inaccuracies relating to the Parliamentary mobile bus. I believe it may be best that you re-examine a number of the claims that you have made in your late Friday night e-mail.” He added: “if you wish to discuss further I believe it would be better than writing an article with significant inaccuracies.”

On that point I would query is his description that the bus was the ‘Parliamentary mobile bus’, is he suggesting that it is Parliamentary property?

I can’t believe he is, so who owns it?

Does he own it?

Does the Labour Party own it?

Does a third party own it?

Does the Parliament own it?

An FOI request has revealed that the Scottish parliament had no knowledge of who owns the bus.

And other details require some clarification as to when it was used or who has used it since 2006.

Holyrood’s Head of allowances said the expense was allowed under the ‘Hall Hire/Surgeries’ category “As the bus is hired to enable surgeries to be held within Mr McAveety’s constituency.”

I think I could see the point of this if Frank MacAveety was the MSP of a rural area where facilities may not be the best or are scarce.

But Glasgow is classed as an urban island, full of buildings both private and public sector.

Lots of buildings!

Although this was an approved claim, if we look south down towards Westminster, these people who claimed for duck ponds and moat cleaning, then the public got to find out which lead to an investigation which saw several people most Labour MPs going to prison for fiddling expenses.

Mr. McAveety is defending the use of public cash for the bus and claimed that all expenses were approved by the Allowances Office.

Now the public know what has been going on, maybe someone should be looking a bit more closely at them as well.

With Frank McAveety saying that Newsnet Scotland has got some of their facts wrong, they have asked him to detail the ‘significant inaccuracies.

Mr. McAveety has at present declined to do so and also declined to confirm who owns the bus.

The Freedom of Information Request (FOI) to the Scottish parliament reveals that the payment of £5,198.00 included sums of £190 for road tax, £80.00 for MOT and £500 for fuel.

This flags up some interesting questions for Frank McAveety, if the Parliament doesn’t own the bus, why is he claiming £190 for road tax and £80 for an MOT?

There is to use a pun a lot of mileage left in this story but it shouldn’t come out of Parliamentary expenses when facilities in Shettleston are already there!

Yours sincerely

George Laird
The Campaign for Human Rights at Glasgow University

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