When £72,660 is not enough

UUP MLA Basil McCrea has made two staff redundant including Dromore by-election winner Carol Black. The failure of anticipated sources of funding to materialise has been blamed. The video report says there is disquiet within sections of the UUP about the situation. UPDATE Ignited has a few questions for Basil. McCrea’s website lists a Hillsborough office as opening soon.

  • slug

    Why is this news?

  • Comrade Stalin

    Why is this news?

    It’s in the public interest to point out when an MLA has trouble meeting the bills based on the expenses allowances, when other MLAs don’t seem to have the same problem.

    Expenses are allocated to meet costs met by MLAs discharging their duty to the electorate over the course of a financial year. The electorate of MLA now does not have the benefit of these facilities despite having apparently paid for it. There needs to be an enquiry into this matter immediately.

  • Why am I still a UUP voter?

    It’s ‘news’ because it’s our p*sspoor media inching towards talking about something else(ish). But it’s also proof that, no matter how useless as leader Reg is, he does have truly amazing luck when it comes to his would-be rivals self-destructing.

  • DC

    Well if he can’t manage his own constituency budget in terms of staffing it poses the question as to whether he could be trusted to run anything else.

  • Caron’s Cat

    Of course its news, and his ability to manage funds is important in someone who presides over legislation, and votes on how all the public money in Northern Ireland gets spent.

    The rumours (and i stress rumours unless someone knows different) were that he had actually overspent on his Office Costs Allowance. Whether the Assembly Finance people could have allowed that of course would be part of the issue were that to be proven.

    What were these “anticipated sources of funding” though? Did his bet on the 3.15 at Haydock not come in or something? Its all very strange……

  • slug

    I am having difficulty finding this noteworthy. So he has laid off two workers – gee how interesting.

  • Danny O’Connor

    The issue is 2 people have lost their jobs in the run up to Christmas,ok the guy may have expected his party to come up trumps with the extra cash to try and win another seat next time based on the work being done now. A short term investment to build for the future-it hasn’t happened-but you have to ask what volume of work is being done for the public,maybe 2 part time offices would have been a more realistic ambition,but I cant criticise someone for seeking to give his constituents as good a service as possible.I wonder how busy MLA’s offices are,and how we quantify the value of work done to ensure that the public have proper representation in housing, benefits, health etc….
    There seems to be no mechanism for ensuring proper spending controls.If a person is getting OCA from westminster and Stormont,who is paying for what.
    Housing is a devolved matter,so should a MP who also is a MLA use House of Commons stationery in writing to the housing executive, the assistants time is coming out of westminster to deal with a devolved matter,could it be an example of constructive use of finances or is it an abuse,I suggest that it is the latter,in that westminster money should be used exclusively for reserved matters ,and not to employ and re-deploy resourses into assembly matters,giving them grater financial resources that their colleagues who are MLAs

  • frustrated democrat

    If you can’t run a ‘business office’ how do you expect to run a country, I seem to remember on another thread last week that there were rumours he was talking to other parties about membership.

    Is there a different story buried in here somewhere?

  • rick

    The rumours are that basil even approached the torys to bail him ou in return for immediately defecting to them. It doesn’t exactly fill his voter with confidence that he could run the country if he can’t even run his own constituency finances!!

  • truth and justice

    Basil sounds like a bit of a clown if you ask meits hard to take him very seriously on anything.

  • fin

    they got the Basil Brush, Boom Boom.

  • terry’s chocolate orange

    what a mess – and the media only covered half the story… I guess they need concrete evidence for the other half.

    Promises, promises and more financial promises from one messed up individual! Racked debts to the tune of £60,000 (rumour?!) – didn’t pay individuals and companies that he had promised money to and signed for in the UUP name (rumour?!) – BEGGED half the country and his party to bail him out (rumour?!)- had his OCA stopped after exceeding not just one, but three different allowance budgets (rumour?!) – and then was bailed out by the deluded big cats who think he’s great because he can talk his way out of a paper bag. Perhaps his own party members, especially those in Lagan Valley, should be told exactly what happened, why and essentially, how – instead of it being ‘brushed’ under the carpet.

    Personally, my vote is firmly sticking with the DUP in Lagan Valley – Wee jeffrey wouldn’t get himself into such a state….

  • autocue

    Fairly shocking stuff. If the suggestion that he went to the Tories promising to defect in exchange for a bail-out are correct then his political career is over.

  • Carson’s Cat

    The rumours indeed were that Basil was touting (insert other word as appropriate) himself around to any party that would take on his debts.

    Also, others seem also to mention that rumours would have it that all the details of this have not yet become known – if he has overspent on several of his Office Costs accounts then surely there is more to come here.

    Danny O’Connor
    “Housing is a devolved matter,so should a MP who also is a MLA use House of Commons stationery in writing to the housing executive, the assistants time is coming out of westminster to deal with a devolved matter,could it be an example of constructive use of finances or is it an abuse,I suggest that it is the latter,”

    Please don’t talk rubbish – are you suggesting that Sylvia Hermon for example should turn constituents away who come with a housing problem simply becase she’s an MP and housing is devolved. That isn’t an abuse its called constituency work…..

    terry’s chocolate orange
    “Perhaps his own party members, especially those in Lagan Valley, should be told exactly what happened,”

    Rumour also has it that they might be beyond that point and his re-selection in Lagan Valley cannot be guaranteed. Perhaps why many of his statements aren’t particularly locally focused but are more about Belfast issues for instance…..

  • fair_deal

    Please watch the comments.

  • Driftwood

    Please watch the comments.

    Why? Do they do tricks?

  • fair_deal

    Driftwood

    LOL.

    Ok then commentors are reminded of the rules governing comments on the site.

  • Rory

    Well if he can’t manage his own constituency budget in terms of staffing it poses the question as to whether he could be trusted to run anything else. DC

    I shouldn’t worry, DC. It is most unlikely that he will ever find himself in that position.

    The rumours indeed were that Basil was touting (insert other word as appropriate) himself around to any party that would take on his debts.” Carson’s Cat

    Another word? Howzabout “soliciting”? It works for other individuals who seek to sell their charms to passing traffic.

  • Winston Smith

    “I have a degree in Chemical Engineering!”

    What a guy.

    Pity about the staff as Danny says.

  • Danny O’Connor

    Carson’s cat,the point is that many MPs are also MLAs and are therefore getting 2 sets of office cost allowance and therefore it is a fair question to ask who is paying for what?

  • Carson’s Cat

    Winston Smith
    Not sure whether to pity the staff too much – given that one of them jumped ship from another political party simply because when they asked for a job in that party it wasn’t available. When Basil offered a job however they suddenly became a convinced Ulster Unionist and long-time critic of DUP policy.

    Excuse me if I don’t shed too many tears.

  • autocue

    By the way, who revealed the information regarding the redundancies in the first instance? The letter sent by Basil to his staff was shown in the report. Who gave it to the BBC?

  • Observer

    Eddie Hanna – Beeb didn’t bother blocking out his name

  • Mike C

    Observer

    Does that mean that Mr Hanna will be returning to the DUP fold since he no longer has a UUP job?

  • Carson’s Cat

    Mike C
    “Does that mean that Mr Hanna will be returning to the DUP fold since he no longer has a UUP job?”

    That would be to assume the DUP would have him back….

  • autocue

    Well spotted Observer! I also like the fact that the letter has in bold text at the top of it “Private and Confidential” – guess again Baz! LOL!

    I wonder if the UUP are so glad to have attracted the boul Mr. Hannah now?

  • Sink Sink

    Mr McCrea should have only ever opened one office in the first place. Only MLAs with contacts who are property developers could ever hope to afford two.

  • Yvette Doll

    If the UUP were a bank, they’d be laughing.

  • Yvette Doll

    “The rumours are that basil even approached the torys to bail him ou in return for immediately defecting to them. ”

    Where would the Tories get the brass from? Are we sure some of this damnably interesting stuff is true?

  • Alex S

    It’s in the public interest to point out when an MLA has trouble meeting the bills based on the expenses allowances, when other MLAs don’t seem to have the same problem.

    McCrea tried to run two offices on 72K, the DUP in Lagan Valley get 72K x 3(MLAs) + 100K (MP) = 316K and they only run two offices, that’s a bigger story surely

  • rally boy

    I would add – whilst the letter shown on the beeb was a copy of the letter given to Edward Hanna – it was not necessarily Mr Hanna who leaked it to the press.

    If what I have heard is true, it was an elected representative in lagan valley that leaked the story to the beeb. As far as I know, Mr Hanna is not an elected representative (as much as he would like to be one or think that he is one!)

  • autocue

    Alex S

    Nice try at a side-step.

  • Mike C

    Alex S

    How is the DUP not spending all the resources available to them a bigger story than the UUP’s voice of business’s inability to manage a fixed budget resulting in two people being made redundant?

  • Seeker

    Vote for Basil – he has loads of management experience