Thursday, 25 June 2009

Local media picks up the Council Tax story and a new, national story

All the local papers have picked up our "Council Tax over-claim" story today: you can read the Buxton Advertiser version here, and the Glossop Advertiser version here. The Glossop Chronicle's version - the only publication that gives credit to this website for breaking the story - is not yet online.

Levitt's explanation for the over-claim? That is was (another) 'mistake' - albeit one that he didn't make before 2006/2007 - and the money has now been 'repaid'. Standard fayre for any chiseling MP in our opinion.

Also hinted at in the Buxton Advertiser is a story from the Times about Levitt's use of his Communications Allowance which will return to summarise ourselves in due course.

Sunday, 21 June 2009

Levitt over-claimed for his Council Tax

Yesterday, the Telegraph looked at how some MPs have claimed more for Council Tax on their expenses claims than the Council Tax actually costs. Today, we can reveal that Tom Levitt can be counted amongst those MPs.

In the original Telegraph article on Levitt, he tells us he bought his current 'second home' in Lambeth in early 2005. Looking at Levitt's claims for Council Tax from the April 2005 tax year and also the spreadsheet of his claims we placed online, we can compare them with the Council Tax rates in Lambeth which can be found in a PDF on this page:
  • 2006/2007 - claimed £1200.00, actual Council Tax £1004.40 (an over-claim of £195.60)
  • 2007/2008 - claimed £1267.32, actual Council Tax £1055.32 (an over-claim of £212.00)
When one looks at Levitt's claims for these years, it's immediately clear that something is wrong: Council Tax is payable over 10 months (or 40 weeks) from April of each year through to January of the following year, yet Levitt has claimed for 12 months. Looking at the 2007/2008, the first 10 months of his claim add up to £1055.32, which is the same as Band C Council Tax in Lambeth.

We've no doubt that Levitt will put this down as a 'mistake', yet we all know that a Council Tax Bill make it perfectly clear the amount that is due each month for 10 months, with payment schedules being clearly printed.

When the Telegraph publish full details of all MPs' expenses on their website this coming Tuesday, we'll see whether or not Levitt has continued this practice for the last financial year.

Friday, 19 June 2009

Redaction & 'privacy'

Excuse us for going on a short break, but a certain amount has happened since we last blogged!

If you've been anywhere near a newspaper, TV or radio, you'll have noticed the hoo-har over the past few days about the mass 'redaction' of the MPs expenses documentation published by the House of Commons yesterday. We're told that the explanation for the redaction of, for example, an MP's address is for security reasons.

But do people know that this info is public anyway? Well yes it is - when candidates are nominated for a General Election, their addresses are published. For example, this page on the High Peak Borough Council website has the nomination details for the 2005 General Election, and this file (PDF) has all the candidates names and addresses.

This is how we learn Tom Levitt lives at Flat 2, 3 The Square, Buxton, Derbyshire, SK17 6AZ. It can be found here on Google Maps and is embedded at the foot of this blog post.

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Thursday, 4 June 2009

This one's on us Tom - put this on your expenses

This is possibly the one thing we wouldn't begrudge Tom Levitt putting on his expenses claim. More details here.

Levitt - taking the piss out of the public

Less than a week after we rumbled Teresa Levitt joking about her husband's expenses claims, Tom Levitt has now joined in.

His facebook status reader on his homepage shows he's joking about using the hairdryer he used £19.99 of our money to buy to treat Athlete's Foot (see below or go to Tom's website).

Our advice to Tom is don't make a bad situation worse - you deserve to cop a loud of outrage at your 'public' meeting tomorrow night (details here).

Wednesday, 3 June 2009

Meeting about expenses with Tom Levitt - Friday 5th June in Chapel-en-le-Frith

Some of our readers have been in touch to inform us that Tom Levitt has been emailing constituents inviting them to attend a meeting he has called regarding his expenses. You can read the email by following this link, or look at the text below:
Interest in MPs’ expenses continues and I remain anxious to be completely open about this issue.

Following a successful meeting last week, I am organising a second opportunity for people to question me on:

Friday 5 June - 7pm

The Old Packhorse, Market Street
Chapel-en-le-Frith SK23 0NT

I will give a presentation on the expenses system as well as my own record and then answer any questions. Please let me know if you wish to attend.
We're not sure why Tom isn't publicising this meeting on his website, since it has been sent to some of his constituents that have been in touch with him. But as the meeting is clearly aimed at his constituents, then we thought we'd do our bit to help him publicise it. 

We'll be there. But we'd like to hear your reports about what the meeting brings, so get in touch. 

Levitt's public meeting & poll results

Labour Councillor Anthony McKeown is reporting on his blog that Tom Levitt last week held a meeting in Hayfield for constituents that had contacted him about his expenses. All told, 20 people attended, which perhaps suggests that Levitt has been rather selective in his invitations. Councillor McKeown goes some way to confirming suspicions we have when he says that this included Labour Party members. 

Since Councillor McKeown's account is the only one that we have, we can only take his word for it that those present were 'supportive of his actions', whatever that means. But it's strange that these are seemingly invite-only meetings - this meeting has not been highlighted in the press, nor on Levitt's website, or anywhere else. 

Councillor McKeown also continues to tell us that Tom met his Constituency Party last Friday, and we detect a little dig at our previous blog calling for the CLP to deselect Levitt:

One thing however that the discussion didn't look for was for Tom to stand down or for the constituency party to start the process to deselect him

But our poll (see top right of the side column) shows that 86% of respondents want the CLP to deselect Levitt. Whilst we don't pretend that this indicates any kind of earth-shattering rejection of Levitt, it's clear that holding invite-only meetings is no way to show you are accountable to the electorate.

And whilst the CLP may make the decision about who the official Labour candidate is in elections for the Member of Parliament, they will have plenty of time to reflect on their choices when Levitt loses his seat at the next election. It will be too late then to choose someone who has not used taxpayer's money to spend on such frivolous items as hairdryers and electric toothbrushes. 

One only has to look at the comments that Levitt's website is attracting to see that people in the High Peak are very angry indeed about the issue. Now that the CLP have lashed themselves to the mast of the sinking ship of Tom Levitt's career, they'll have no room at all to criticise those who vote for anyone but this crook next time around.