Diary - Rigid scrutiny?

7th August 2009 at 01:00

Lars is all for "transparency" and has suggested that Peter and I scrutinise the councillors' expenses claims and they will do likewise to ours. There would be no moats and duck islands on his watch.

As the month ended and all thoughts turned to the impending holidays, Peter and I were inundated with pink forms and an avalanche of receipts. We went away to Committee Room 3 to begin the process. Check and double- check. While there were no major items which could have attracted the interest of the national press, we did uncover some interesting "anomalies".

I was armed with a copy of the latest edition of The Wee Red Book, as I asked Peter to read out a certain gentleman's list of conferences and meetings attended. Peter read out the venues - Dundee, Aberdeen, Edinburgh. "Stop, I'll bet the next one is Kilmarnock," I said. Peter was incredulous and I admitted I was not yet possessed of psychic powers. It was just that his attendances at "conferences" coincided with Rangers away games at the identical venues.

One other elected member always seemed to be in Edinburgh at the same time as Scotland were playing at Murrayfield - sheer coincidence. We checked till receipts. No real problems there. The poor wee souls got free tea and coffee anyway and free meals when in council HQ.

There was a need to keep receipts for all external meals and food. Lars led by example. Not for him the four-course meal at the plushest hotel. Our Glorious Leader always bought sandwiches and soft drinks from a local store, and was meticulous in keeping receipts.

At times, he was perhaps too open and "transparent". On one particular conference visit, he had stopped at Boots in Edinburgh's Waverley Station. Rightly so, after three hours on the early train, he bought refreshments for the next stage of the journey to York. Lars had marked the food and drinks he bought. My eye was drawn to the other items on the Boots till receipt which, to be fair, he hadn't claimed. A hairbrush? He was as bald as a coot. Nail lacquer? Was there something we should know? Oh no, Lars, not Viagra, surely? I am too much of a lady to see who else attended this particular event and to cross-reference details.

Peter and I emerged squeaky clean from our scrutiny by the councillors. I was to meet Lars and let him know of any discrepancies on the council- lors' list. Now Peter has a wicked sense of humour and told Lars, without a hint of a smile, grin or giggle that all was fine and everything had stood up to scrutiny.

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