Article published: Friday, June 18th 2010
Crain’s Manchester Business reported this week that the Greater Manchester Public Transport Executive paid £857,000 for three of its executive directors to firms from which they are seconded.
In the past year Ernst & Young, Parsons Brinkerhoff and Acuity Programme Ltd were paid to release David Leather, Robert Morris and Paul Griffiths respectively, so that they could work as directors for GMPTE.
GMPTE oversees Greater Manchester’s public transport network and infrastructure, but does not directly run bus and tram services. It received £186 million from the Greater Manchester Integrated Transport Authority (GMITA) in the year ending 2010. A spokesperson told Crain’s they could not provide a detailed breakdown of the £857,000 and how it was spent. The highest salary for a permanent member of staff of GMPTE is £124,845.
Leather is managing director at GMPTE, a position he was already committed to for two years. Morris will also remain in his position as interim chief executive for the foreseeable future according to GMPTE. Griffiths has now left his position as interim projects director and returned to Acuity.
According to GMPTE, the payments “reflect the long term nature of the arrangements between the respective organisations and the PTE” and that Leather and Morris provide the organisation “with the experience and continuity required” for the future.
Steve Warrener, GMPTE’s Finance Director, said: “The fees paid for the services of our interim Directors are indicative of the value of their roles in the private sector, and they have provided hugely beneficial financial and managerial expertise to GMPTE.”
It was also revealed that the three companies had been awarded contracts by GMPTE worth nearly £10 million. A GMPTE spokesperson stressed the three men were not involved in the decisions in their roles with GMPTE or the firms from which they were seconded, and that “robust arrangements and procedures” are in place to deal with potential conflicts of interest.
However, at a time when cuts are falling everywhere and hitting the poor especially hard, people are seriously questioning the massive amount of taxpayer money finding its way into the coffers of rich private companies rather than directly into public services. A poll running on Crain’s shows even 90 per cent of its readers see the fees as a “waste of public money” considering the executives’ already high salaries.
This article was edited on 21 June after GMPTE pointed out to MULE that some of the original claims made by Crain’s were factually incorrect.
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