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BBC executives and presenters have been paid up to £150,000 each to relocate to the North

BBC executives and presenters have been paid up to £150,000 each to relocate to the North

A total of 11 staff have been given six-figure allowances to move from London to the corporation’s new headquarters in Salford, Greater Manchester. The corporation confirmed that all 11 used licence-fee payers’ money to move into homes worth between £500,000 to £1million.

The allowances cover the cost of their stamp duty, estate agency fees and furnishings, and other moving costs. Staff are also given lump sums payments worth up to 10 per cent of their salary. The figures were released as part of a National Audit Office report which found that the allowances were “generous” and that controls over allowances were “inadequate”.

A total of 91 staff were given “exceptional” amounts, including 23 individuals who were given extra to “incentivise” them to move because they were considered “critical” to the corporation. Read more

Steven Swinford | The Telegraph | 14th May 2013

Mary Portas fails to visit centres chosen for retail revival pilot scheme

The shopping expert Mary Portas spent weeks filming attempts to revive high streets in three of the locations chosen to pilot the retail “revolution”, but some others who worked away from the camera have not yet received a visit from the TV star, documents obtained by the Guardian reveal.

A series of freedom of information requests show that of the first dozen”Portas pilots” – shopping centres chosen last May to receive £100,000 each of state support and advice – five got walkabouts where Portas spent a few hours touring the high street, four got no visit at all and two featured in hour-long TV reality shows as part of the Channel 4 series, Mary: Queen of the High Street.

Croydon, picked in the original wave of pilots, did not respond. When Grant Shapps, the then local government minister, wrote to Portas in February last year he said he hoped her “help and expertise will be extended … to those pilots that do not feature in your show”. Read more

Randeep Ramesh | The Guardian | 14th May 2013

Bodmin counts cost of hoaxers

HOAX calls attended by Bodmin firefighters have cost taxpayers at least £2,400 over the past three years. Figures obtained by the Cornish Guardian under the Freedom of Information (FOI) Act, revealed that crews have attended eight false call-outs in the town since 2010.

Six of these were caused by people maliciously setting off fire alarms, and the other two were prank phone calls. Nick Harvey, Bodmin’s station manager and fire prevention lead for Cornwall Fire & Rescue Service, said each fire crew call-out costs about £300 and can be more.

“The [FOI] figures are fairly consistent with what we would anticipate but we are always working to drive it down,” he said. “We don’t appear to have a problem that’s greater than any other fire service. Generally, the more urban the brigade, the bigger the problem they have. It seems to be a problem with larger towns. Read more

Cornish Guardian | 15th May 2013

ISRAEL: Austerity-hit Israelis furious over $18K bill for Netanyahu’s food, shoes and personal hairdressers

JERUSALEM – Benjamin Netanyahu has been embarrassed for the second time in a week after it was disclosed that his household costs have nearly doubled in four years, including spending hikes on shoes and hairdressing.

While his countrymen are being forced to accept a budget squeeze, Israel’s prime minister last year spent $918,000 on his three residences – an 80% rise on the $528,000 of 2009, the year he took office.

The figures were disclosed after a Jerusalem court forced Mr. Netanyahu’s office to release a report of his residence expenses following a request by the Movement for Freedom of Information. Read more

Robert Tait | The Telegraph | 13th May 2013

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