Nigel Thornton:Putting the brake on expenses

Thornton on Thursday column with Peterborough Telegraph's deputy editor Nigel Thornton - peterboroughtoday.co.uk
Thornton on Thursday column with Peterborough Telegraph's deputy editor Nigel Thornton - peterboroughtoday.co.uk
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The chief executive of cash-strapped (aren’t they all) Cambridgeshire County Council Mark Lloyd obviously takes his council’s policy on encouraging cycling seriously.

We know Mr Lloyd, who earns £190,858 – and, yes, that is more than the Prime Minister is paid – is a keen cyclist because of his expense claims.

It turns out that in line with the county council’s policy Mr Lloyd has made claims when he’s got on his bike. For two journeys made back in November 2013 he claimed 60p. One was for pedalling the two miles from his house to Cambridge train station another was for a one-mile journey.

A spokesperson for Cambridgeshire County Council said: “Getting people to use their bikes is a priority for Cambridgeshire County Council, which also has a policy of encouraging employees to use the cheapest and most sustainable form of transport while on council business.

“The chief executive cycles wherever and whenever he can. In the past a small number of these many cycle trips were included in his mileage allowance.

“These claims are legitimate and in line with the council’s travel policy, which applies to all staff just like when they use their own cars.’’

Mr Lloyd has now repaid the 60p.

Back to the spokesman: “However, acknowledging the financial restraints the council is in as well as the time taken to make these claims he stopped making them for short trips some time ago and also reimbursed the council for the small handful of journeys previously included in mileage claims.”

As a fully paid up member of the born again cycling club I believe some people should be paid to ride a bike. After all we cyclists reduce the world’s carbon footprint.

And what’s more it is not a cost-free alternative.

I often cycle to work, although I don’t claim expenses for it, and only last week I had a puncture that cost me £9.95 to get mended.

Mr Lloyd was well within his rights to claim cycling expenses – but was he right to do so?

I can’t really knock Lynsey Crombie, who features on Page 3 of today’s PT for her obsession with cleaning.

The mum of three from Hampton is carving a TV career out of it after all and if I could do that with “sofa sitting’’ - which is my own special talent – I’d be well chuffed. Lynsey even takes her own wine glass with her when she goes to friends for dinner. She can be my friend as well – as long she brings her own wine bottle too.

For the past two weeks I’ve been trying to contact the tax office to change some of my details. Frustratingly, I can never get through, even after holding for more than 20 minutes. It turns out I’m not alone - 18 millions calls from the public went unanswered last year. They are even taxing our patience now.

Some weeks back I mentioned in this column a wonderful model kit of Peterborough Cathedral. Those nice people at the cathedral, who now have it in stock in their shop, offered me the chance to build one. Sadly, I am an impractical man (I can’t ever repair a puncture on my bike) and it’s really aimed at the dedicated model builder. It’s more up Mrs T’s street (she’s craftier than me), but we decided it might be too much of an ask, particularly if Toddler T got involved. I’m not sure the addition of glitter and stick-on wobbly eyes would enhance the model. In any case, if Mrs T is going to spend time assembling anything it’s going to be that ridiculously complex barbecue I bought online last summer which is still in its box in the garage.

Diary Of A Bad Dad

Among the many changes I’ve had to adapt to after becoming a parent is learning to live with IOS.

IOS or to give it its full title Inappropriate Object Syndrome is just another of those things you didn’t know existed until you became a parent.

It’s like being permanently in a very amateur production of a French farce – and you’re the bumbling lord of the manor who goes to pull out his handkerchief and instead there’s a very skimpy pair of ladies’ undercrackers.

For instance if my boss got in my car he might want to know why there is a wooden spoon on the back seat.

“Ask Toddler T,’’ would be my reply. She was the one who wanted it to conduct an imaginary orchestra on our way to nursery.

And it’s the reason why I often put my hand in my pocket to find a half-chewed sweet or a still sticky lollipop stick. My colleagues at work are by now used to seeing me feasting on several days old small bits of fruit from small pink pots.

They had of course been prepared for Toddler T, who while she loves fruit, is not a fan of “old fruit’’.

And why would a grown man have a small toy monkey, three Frozen jigsaw pieces, a plastic tiara and a half-empty packet of Pom Bears in his briefcase?