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The truths they don't want you to read....

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Council tendering processes

No, I'm not going to mention that instance again (just yet) for reasons that will become apparent at the next series of Council meetings.*

I'm trying to be helpful here, but one major cost that the Council incurs has not been the subject of tendering for a huge number of years.

I believe that putting this out to tender would save money, by getting a better price (perhaps 10% lower), and by allowing better monitoring of costs which I believe are running wild and uncontrolled.

So why has this £500,000 pa cost never been put out for tender?Petrol pumps Western Isles

It nearly was, but the last report around 2006 which was originated by Council Officers and demonstrated huge potential benefits never made it to the Committee. Apparently, it was blocked by more senior officers and not by Members, who never knew anything about it.

Why is the usage of petrol and diesel by Comhairle vehicles not the subject of tendering and consequently more tightly controlled?

To do so - perhaps by the use of fuel cards, which could benefit other business on the islands - would also allow the Council to monitor usage and consumption per vehicle, and it should reduce the number of Council vehicles doing the 'bacon roll' run every morning.

The narrower financial issues make it a matter for Commercial Operations Board; the wider economic impact issues make it a matter for Sustainable Development; and the broader policy issues make it a matter for Policy and Resources.

Although the Chair of P&R would have to declare an interest and step aside, there is nothing to stop his firm tendering in a fair and open process.

Just what is the downside to this proposal? Nothing. So why is it not on any agenda?

* Councillors: you will be asked to take a decision that has already been made for you, and is already being implemented. The justification for the decision is entirely false, and is about getting very senior officers out of the mess they made for themselves. More details to follow when I see the report, which will be taken in private and probably given to you at the last moment.


Anonymous said...

There is one easy method available to the council which would cut their fuel bill and that is to restrict the private use of council vehicles.
By private I mean the use of council vans by employees to travel to and from work.
Why should I as a council tax payer subidise some council employees to travel to and from work.

Anonymous said...

The price benifits would be offered by the card issuer to the end user (keycard to CnES) and the vehicles can go to any outlet supporting the card service. This would work with rebate from Scottish Fuel from card volumes to individual service station, so I think Angus is highlighting the wrong Councillor. Who owns Scottish Fuels? Who owns Keycards?

Captain Swing said...

Anon 5:26

Good point. Are those employees who take their vehicle home also classified as having a company car and therefor taxed as such?

I realise that some may have to take a van or other vehicle home occasionally because of 'on call' arrangements and these situations are dealt with within the tax system, however all others should be taxed as having a company car benefit, and that includes the benefit of having someone else pay for the fuel you use whilst going to work.

Information from

BN52 - Company Car and Fuel Benefit Tax

Who is likely to be affected?

1. Employees provided with a company car available for their private use and employees who are provided with a company car who receive free fuel for private travel. Employers who bear Class 1A National insurance on the taxable benefit of providing a car and any fuel for it.

General description of the measure

2. A Treasury order will be laid before Parliament, before the summer recess, to introduce a 2% discount for company car drivers who drive a car which is capable of being run on E85 fuel.

3. The company car fuel figure for 2007/08 will be maintained at the current level.

Operative date

4. The company car fuel multiplier will have effect on and after 6 April 2007. The company car tax E85 discount will have effect on and after 6 April 2008.

Current law and proposed revisions
Company car tax

5. Where a car is made available for an employee’s private use, a taxable benefit arises under sections 114 and 120 Income Tax (Earnings and Pensions) Act 2003 (ITEPA). Company car tax was reformed in April 2002 and is now calculated by applying the appropriate percentage to the list price of the car. The appropriate percentage is related to the CO2 emissions of the car and ranges from 15% - 35% (in 1% increments) for a petrol car. Most diesel cars attract a 3% supplement on petrol percentages (capped at 35%). Cars that can be driven on alternative fuels, such as Liquified Petroleum Gas (LPG) attract a discount from the appropriate percentage rate

6. On and after 6 April 2008, there will be a 2% discount from the appropriate percentage rate for cars that have been manufactured to run on E85 fuel.

Company car fuel benefit tax

7. An additional taxable benefit arises under section 149 of ITEPA 2003 if the employee receives free or subsidised fuel for private use in a company car. The company car fuel benefit tax charge was reformed in April 2003 to align with the environmental principles of the company car tax system. Since April 2003, the fuel benefit charge has been calculated by applying the company car tax appropriate percentage to a set figure known as the multiplier. In 2006/07 the multiplier was £14,400. For 2007/08 the multiplier figure for the company car fuel benefit tax charge will be frozen at £14,400.

In my view the Council employees who take their vehicle home receive free fuel benefit for their journeys to and from work even if they are not then allowed to use the vehicle for any other private use. I have to pay to get to work why shouldn't everybody else?

Anonymous said...

5:26 as Angus will know as a number cruncher the use of a vehicle to and from work is a taxable benefit!

You will find the scam is that CnES will claim their employees use the cars & vans to go from home to work site i.e. not the work depot etc which is not a taxable benefit yet know the actual use is from home to work place.

This scam has been going on for years with even managers taking vehicles home particulalrly covertly with hire vans and cars etc.

Anonymous said...


Are there not tax impications about using a works vehicle for private use and taking it home with you?

Why is this not being implemented?

Anonymous said...

What a load of spoilsports! What a miserable, joyless, puritanical bunch of right-on dim wits. WTF is the world coming to when you can't take the works van down for the bacon rolls?

Anonymous said...


Well said. I've never had the benefit of a works van or car to take home, but it is laughable to see the correspondence on this thread. All the ones who chafe at the pettyfogging burueaucracy of the Comhairle now poring over extracts from the tax & revenue regulations to check that there's not a sixpence claimed unlawfully! Thanks for the lesson, Capt Swing. And do remember that Angus, for a (good) living, helps those in the upper echelons of society avoid (lawfully, of course) the little irritations of tax payments. Back to your rule books now folks and keep up the good work.

Anonymous said...

9.31 & 10.56am

I think you're both missing the point. We're paying for the privilege of council employees using free transport, whether it's for the bacon roll or to/from their houses. I'm sure it will all add up to a tidy amount of cash which could be used for vital services. I wonder who'll be the first to complain when the council start getting rid of people in the next couple of years due to lack of funds?

Anonymous said...


If you think that 30 men in 30 seperate vehicles circumnavigating Stornoway to various food outlets taking up to 30 minutes of their working day is acceptable you are:


a yellow van driver

a fuel station owner who flogs junk food


simply mad

Its at our poll tax expense they do this - can you not see this?

Anonymous said...

Keep digging 12:07. keep digging. I'm sure that the total tax loss to the Exchequer - not the Comhairle, note - by the bacon sanny runs in a year amount to the sum a firm of local accountants can shave off in an hour for a tax avoider looking for advice.

Captain Swing said...

Anon 8:44

It is a taxable benefit if you have to drive past the depot or your home base of work i.e. the White House, to get to your place of work.

For example living in Barvas if I were going to work in Point in my company car/van then my journey using 'free' fuel to the depot or other building where I am based is not tax free (even if I don't call in at the 'office') as this is deemed a journey I would have to make at my expense, the journey onwards would of course count as work. However if my journey was from Barvas to Shawbost this would would be OK no tax liability for use of company vehicle whilst going to work.

Why do I know about these things? Well I spent over 20 years working for a proper Council down south, trying every trick we could find to try and avoid paying tax on lease cars supplied by my employer, incidently these lease cars were not fueled by my employer we had to pay for that and claim back a mileage allowance.

Then there was the use of mobile and landline phones, and laptops, for personal use, the Councils internet for browsing even shopping and picking up and sending emails. It all went on, oh the hours we wasted it was better than work. When did I change my view and stop this, well a colleague of mine one day spent over 5 (out of 7.5)hours of work time arranging her holiday, a tour of the far east, and I thought this is ridiculous. Not long afterward my employer also took a similar view and clamped down on everything, we in effect had blown it we had took the piss and they took all our toys away.

After the clamp down to get internet access for work purposes we had to be vetted by the Auditors, then all internet use was monitored (including emails)any abuse was a sacking offence, mobile phone logs were checked and any unexplained calls charged to the user at the going rate.

The net result was that productivity went up the Councils budgets seemed to go further, the only one who weren't happy were those who hadn't bothered to get a computer and internet at home because they thought they could do it all at work!

Does the Comhairle here do anything like this?

As for those who think this is all a bit petty I can only suggest you don't know how lucky you are to work for a Council who lets you get away with it.

Captain Swing said...

PS to my last post I am the Poacher who turned Gamekeeper, yeh we all know nothing worse than a reformed character.

Anonymous said...

The blog is giving a trojan virus warning.

LazyChicken said...

Anon 2:34 - which anti-virus software and which trojan?

AVG Internet Security gives the blog the all clear.

Anonymous said...

There is no virus on this blog

The council employees have been getting away wioth using the vans for personal use for far too long, it's about time it was tightened up. It's us, the taxpayer who foot the bill for their rallying around the Islands, it's not just the fuel, what about the wear and tear on the vehicles and all the maintenance therein.

Anonymous said...

Quite right! Make the buggers walk!

Anonymous said...

Next time I'll not bother saying anything. 2.34

Anonymous said...

this sight is full of moaning twats who expect everything to be done for them ! that is why this country is knackered

Anonymous said...

It would be interesting to list how the council let their employees scam freebies!!
1st; free transport
2nd; free internet access
3rd; free time to 'surf the net'
4th; free shovel to lean on while occassionally digging

Anonymous said...

Free Vehicle & tools to do home'rs and undercut local tradesmen. (It does Happen )

Anonymous said...

The council is full of moaning twats! I know a guy who refused a job with a local sparkie firm, why? They did not offer a "company van" like the one he had with the council.

Anonymous said...

Anon 9:31
It is obvious that you are an entrenched Comhairle, full pension employee. Come out to the coal face in the real world where we are trying to decide who retains their job (and livelyhood this week). Who faces, no income, no cash and therefore cannot pay their bills because the customer hasn't paid. And all you worry about is having a free ride to go and get your bacon sandwich in the morning. Some of us are scared about whether we can take our wives to Tesco on Saturday and afford to pay the bill....

Yes, I am such a spoilsport. I guess I won't be meeting you down the dole queue.

Anonymous said...

And do remember that Angus, for a (good) living, helps those in the upper echelons of society avoid (lawfully, of course) the little irritations of tax payments

Firstly, let's put the record straight about those in the "upper echelons of society" having to do tax returns. I am a crofter and a weaver. Both incomes are self-employed and I barely make £10k per year BUT I have to do a tax return because I am self employed. I am not in the "upper echelons of society", I am just in the unfortunate position of not having a cushy guaranteed pay job, which pays me net of tax and which means that I don't have to look around for another source of income in order to pay my bills.
Many people who have to prepare tax returns, particularly in the Western Isles, are not posh, rich or even tax payers. The laws force us to pay good qualified accountants such as Angus (and Sue) to ensure that we don't pay any more than we have to. And the last time I looked, he wasn't driving around in an Aston Martin nor wearing a Rolex and I am sure that he will work at least until retirement age as will his wife who has three young children and who works full-time.
Get off your ivory tower and come down to reality.

Anonymous said...

Worry not my friend, the wind farms are coming ! nobody will have to work , we will be living in the new Saudi Arabia ! weighed down with gold and silver ..... but don,t hold your breath !

Anonymous said...

Oh dear , i forgot to say , in Saudi Arabia the poor are still poor and the " Upper Echelons of Society " are weighed down with gold and silver... oh well i suppose we can always go to a stoning on a Sunday untill the Sports Centre opens !

Anonymous said...

There,s supposed to be 150 jobs going down Eiskin way , get on your bike ! stop moaning , use your own car , hope you have a head for heights , good luck !

Anonymous said...

Just think , Good old Alistair Darling Can get his hands on your cash before you can , thats a job for you !

Anonymous said...


Good to see that Angus and his equally philanthropic accountancy colleagues are making their living from good works with impoverished crofter / fishermen who are forced by law (which ones?) not to pay more than they are obliged. The barefoot doctor service transformed to money handling. And there was me thinking that most of their money came from .....oh, never mind.

Anonymous said...

What the hell are you on about??

Anonymous said...

Pity the Comhairle (pronounced 'Kola' by Hoorah Henrys) didn't put the taking down of the Christmas Tree in Perceval Sq out to tender.. One Lorry X one chainsaw X SIX (yes SIX) Bacon Roll Wallahs at it for best part of day. Would £2,000 charge out cost cover it.......but ah it might have been "recycled" so actual cost will increase for "use of recycling plant etc

Anonymous said...

Freebies continued;
6th. Holiday down to the southern isles for the day - potter about their council office for a change.
7th. Catch up with colleagues by standing around reception at regular intervals throughout the day.
8th ..

Anonymous said...

This should be renamed as
'The Boss's Blog'

Anonymous said...

Councillors moving up and down the Islands in numbers using there own cars and claiming milage when they should be sharing transport no wonder most of them have new vehicles WE are paying for them as part of our taxes

Dr Evadne said...

More Freebies:
8th: Clocking in and sitting in the office until 18.00 playing with the internet. Free days off with all that made up time.

9th: Days off on the sick whilst driving around town doing nothing.

10th: Not really having a job at all, just a fancy made up title and pretending to know what you are doing.

11th: Going on training sessions being trained by someone who needs training themselves

12th: Anything to do with HR...


Anonymous said...

Taking 6 weeks to process a straight forward planning application. I quote "I have 6 weeks and I will take 6 weeks"

Asking for information, one thing at a time to ensure that every job takes ten times as long as it should take

Paying 6 month's full maternity pay rather than the 6 weeks at 90% the rest of the population get and then allowing teachers to return to school one week before the summer holidays so that they get another 6-7 weeks fully paid holiday

Ensuring that anything that is outsourced is given to their closest relatives

Flying as many councillors as possible around and around to important meetings, meetings and more meetings to talk about whether they should have a meeting

Working from home


"Sick leave"

Off work with stress!