There is no money for hanging baskets of flowers on the streets of Islington, but there is more than enough to pay the expenses of the local Great and the Good assembled for the borough’s first Fairness Commission held earlier this week, pet project of council leader Catherine West. She is shocked by the extremes in poverty and wealth in the borough and has brought in Professor Richard Wilkinson, author of The Spirit Level (which the TPA countered in a recent paper - The Spirit Illusion), to chair the regular meetings to be held throughout the year with the result of producing a report on which the council will then base its future policy.
Yesterday, we learnt that Network Rail has gained approval for bonuses amounting to £2.4 million, one hundred per cent of which is being paid by you, the taxpayer. Amidst some very tough decisions across the public sector in recent weeks, it seems extraordinary that Iain Coucher, the company’s departing Chief Executive, can justify his mammoth £641,000 bonus payment. He will receive this on top of his salary of £805,000; adding up to a total annual pay packet of £1,447,000, more than twice the figure he received last year.
It seems that that the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) are ready to move quickly on their plans to strip away lumbering regional bureaucracies. So far we've seen the Regional Development Agencies (RDAs), Regional Strategies, funding for Regional Leaders’ Boards and the Government Office for London all abolished. Yesterday afternoon the rest of England's regional Government Offices were consigned to the scrapheap. More good news, then.