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The Nifty 250: News of the day in so many words

<b>Wednesday 11 November:</b> Lottery winners revealed, hospitality procedures breached at the council, and who wants an elected mayor?

Published on November 11th 2009.

MERSEYSIDE’S ‘MAGNIFICIENT SEVEN’ REVEALED their identities yesterday at a press conference in the Wirral where they collected a cheque for £45,570,835.50. John Walsh, 57; James Bennett, 28; Sean Connor, 32; Alex Parry, 19; Emma Cartwright, 23; Ceri Scullion, 35; and Donna Rhodes, 39; have each won £6.5m. The IT workers will earn interest of between £116 to £294 a day, depending on the savings account they choose.

A HOSPITALITY INQUIRY HAS LED TO LIVERPOOL COUNCIL officials making a series of charity donations. City treasurer Robert Corbett reviewed the hospitality received after a number of potential breaches in policies and procedures were found. In cases where it could be perceived there was little or no benefit to Liverpool, he asked officials to make an equivalent donation to the Lord Mayor’s charity, with chief executive Colin Hilton donating £1,000.

THREE IN FOUR PEOPLE WANT AN ELECTED MAYOR, a council survey has found. Almost 500 people responded to the formal consultation on whether to keep the present system or have a directly elected mayor. From 458 valid responses, 74% voted to have an elected mayor, while 26% supported having a council leader. A special constitutional committee will consider the results next week before making a recommendation to the council.

ACTOR DAVID MORRISSEY MADE his directorial debut at Liverpool’s FACT last night with Don’t Worry About Me. After the screening, the Kensington-born actor took questions from the audience. The event was part of Clapperboard Presents and made £2,000 for the Clapperboard Youth Project.

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Mr GreedyNovember 11th 2009.

If only Ronnie Biggs had made a donation to charity, could have saved him a lot of trouble. So will Hilton and his tight-fisted hedonistic crew extend the same get out option to lower ranking staff, take whatever freebie is going and drop a few quid into the salvation army collection tin on the way home? How many of these trips to the races were in office hours where the taxpayers of the city are paying his £230,000 plus 20% performance related pay salary and his fellow directors who average about £170,000plus Performance related pay? Maybe it's how many performances at the Arena you blagged for free. So how do you represent the city at a Tom Jones concert, did he throw his knickers on stage with the capital of culture logo on them? No wonder no action was taken against Bradley for phoning from his Las Vegas holiday and getting the culture company (read taxpayer) to fork out for tickets at a few hundred dollars for him to se Cirque de Solely show which incidentally we had already paid for Jason Harborow and his assistant to go and see twice, even though the show could not be brought here. The front line staff in the council has constant reminders about accepting gifts or invitations and that they must either decline or record them in a hospitality register. The kinds of gifts are usually a thank you box of chocolates or flowers but occasionally somebody might bring a bottle of spirits. The front line staff have the sense to say thank you but no. And they are regularly reminded of this from guess where? Hilton's Executive Office. The standards of behaviour of what is acceptable and what is not are on line for all council employees to see and they have to make an annual declaration. Is it no wonder then that people neither trust nor believe a word that comes out of their mouths. Complete double standards. These gifts and hospitality events may not be paid for out of council tax, but did they record these days as leave, where they paid by the council for the time?Every internal investigation finds no wrongdoing, with the headline cleared of such and such, just like the controversy over the job to Councillor Eldridges girlfriend. But if you bother to read the rest of the account, you discover that the conclusions seldom match up with the facts, such as Reeds agencies account of the chronology of events. I am sure she is not guilty of any wrongdoing but possibly somebody thought it would get them brownie points and ended up compromising them both. Cover up after cover up. While each individual free concert, football match and the regular race meetings (it seems) are not of any great financial benefit, other than it saves having to pay for their own dinners, it is indicative of a self serving autocracy that has gripped this council. And the result is it tarnishes the cities reputation, it give the public the idea that all council staff are just in it for themselves and it destroys any confidence that business relationships and deals rely more on finding favour through an old boys network of you scratch my race card and I'll scratch yours rather than what best serves the interest of the people of the city who pay your salaries. This should be opened up for a proper independent investigation along with all of the similar stories that abounded during the contract award to Liverpool Direct and the extending of that contract despite a report condemning the arrangements, which for the most part remains a secret document. Something is rotten in the State of Dale Street.

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