Sheffield councillors claim £33,000 expenses

PCSO Maggie Rozmus with Cllr Harry Harpham cabinet member for homes and regeneration
PCSO Maggie Rozmus with Cllr Harry Harpham cabinet member for homes and regeneration

EXPENSES claims totalling almost £33,000 were submitted by Sheffield councillors in the 2011/12 year, according to figures released by the authority.

Sixty-eight of the 95 councillors who served within the period made claims for travel which came to £27,733.71.

Six councillors claimed a carer’s allowance and were paid a total of £4,642.35 and five claimed for subsistence totalling £603.98.

But 27 councillors made no expenses claims whatsoever.

The highest claim was by Sheffield Council’s cabinet member for business, jobs and growth Coun Helen Mirfin-Boukouris, who represents Beighton ward for Labour. She was paid £1,612.40 for travel expenses because of the number of events she attended outside Sheffield in her role.

Second-highest was Alan Law, Labour councillor for Firth Park, chairman of the city centre, south and east planning board, who lives in Stocksbridge and claimed £1,166.45 for travel to his ward and also frequent trips to the Town Hall for planning meetings.

Third was Labour cabinet member for housing, Coun Harry Harpham, whose travel expenses were £898.75.

Council leader Coun Julie Dore claimed £78.80 during the 12 months.

Deputy council leader Coun Harpham said: “I know Helen worked very hard and attended a lot of meetings, which would have meant her claiming a lot.

“Alan’s claims are high because of the time he spends travelling to his ward and the Town Hall for his role on the planning board.

“All my claims were legitimate and in line with procedure.”

Former Broomhill councillor Paul Scriven, who was council leader for the first month of the financial year, made the highest claim of the Lib Dems - £676.45.

Current Lib Dem opposition leader Coun Shaffaq Mohammed was among several councillors claiming £488.15 for a 12-month Travelmaster ticket giving unlimited public transport around Sheffield.

He said: “We were encouraged to take the passes to be environmentally-friendly rather than drive.

“I now find it more convenient to travel to my ward by car so have not renewed the ticket.

“Paul’s claim was for a bus pass and a couple of trips representing the council but he was leader for part of the period.

“The council is still booking train tickets through travel agents, paying standard open return prices rather than cheap advance tickets and that is an area that needs looking at.

“I think there is never a time when you shouldn’t be careful with expenses and what you are claiming.”