Tower Hamlets Councillors Compensation
March 21, 2010 10:26 AM   Subscribe

Tower Hamlets Councillors Compensation
According to UK law, compensation paid to local councillors should be available to the public. While it would be quite reasonable to think that in 2010 this data would be online and easily available, if did believe so you would be wrong. I decided to change this.

Tower Hamlets is one of the remaining councils in the UK that doesn't offer this information online.

Instead, Tower Hamlets publishes councillor compensation data only once a year, in a local newsletter (East End Life).

In 2009, this information was found far in the back of the newsletter, on page 48, without announcement or fanfare. Note that it was published in the August 24th (bank holiday special!) edition, when most folks are either on holiday or too busily enjoying summer to care about politics.

While it was difficult to track down this information, once we did the real fun started. Between February 8th and March 8th 2010, we filed 61 Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests, trying to get the council to verify our data before publication.

In spite of legal requirements mandating FOIA requests be satisfied within twenty working days, to date they have ONLY REPLIED TO ONE FOIA REQUEST.

We went ahead and published this data, asking all 51 of Tower Hamlet Councillors to verify their own compensation information.

This is an especially important issue as, even with unemployment surging in Tower Hamlets, with over 1,000 English as a Second Language classes being cut, NHS cuts on the table, inflation running about 2% and house prices down some 21% from the peak, Tower Hamlets Councillors saw fit to award themselves raises of almost 6%, no doubt for a "job well done".

Note that the tools used to construct the Tower Hamlets Councillors Compensation webiste is the direct result of this ask.metafilter question.

Thanks to all who helped with that query, and thanks to all that will provide any feedback on our site.
posted by Mutant (7 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite

Interesting. The "about this site" link is broken. The page is there, but the front page linking to it fails.
posted by pwnguin at 2:52 PM on March 21, 2010

pwnguin -- "The "about this site" link is broken."

Thanks - fixed! Don't know why it worked for me, but it was most definitely broke (http://http://www ... ). Appreciate the tip, and have checked all others for similar errors.

Thanks again!
posted by Mutant at 3:50 PM on March 21, 2010

Cool project. I note that you haven't marked a best answer in your askme; if you got specific advice that you implemented, it might be nice to note that in the thread, with a followup and/or a checkmark.
posted by Mngo at 8:18 AM on March 22, 2010

Tower Hamlets Councillors saw fit to award themselves raises of almost 6%, no doubt for a "job well done"

Ah, the fun of living in one of the UK's most determinedly banana republic-ish local authorities, which seems to be permanently on double secret probation. God only knows what it would be like if we didn't have the business rates from Canary Wharf. Still, on the plus side, the ongoing spat between the East London Advertiser and the council's mini-Pravda, East End Life is entertaining.
posted by rhymer at 10:33 AM on March 22, 2010

Excellent work. Can I suggest sending this to Private Eye to have a look at? The Eye seem to have a special affection for the Tower Hamlets authorities, so I'm sure they'd be delighted to see this and hear the rest of your saga.
posted by metaBugs at 11:18 AM on March 22, 2010

This is very interesting and a valuable public tool that you've made. Part of me is very surprised that this wasn't already available online, but once I looked at the data I can see why they would probably rather it be not easily accessible.
posted by julie_of_the_jungle at 5:50 PM on March 22, 2010

That's one long URL! American here, so it's interesting to me that you have Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests there as well. Well, it's interesting that you call them the same thing.

Whatever graphic you use to link to: doesn't load for me. I get the "?".

I was looking for some analysis of this info on the site, and it may be there, but if so I misseed it.

I can see a 6% raise if this was to bring them inline with prevailing wages, or if there had been a 3 year wage freeze, or if what they are doing generates a lot of wealth, but since I have no real idea what these people do I am not 100% that this is out-of-line. I'll trust you though. Just saying am "outrage" post might be fun to read.
posted by cjorgensen at 10:56 AM on March 23, 2010

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