Watford Council spends nearly £30k training staff

Watford taxpayers spent £249 sending independent councillor Malcolm Meerabux on a seminar entitled “The Future of Policing”.

Watford taxpayers spent £249 sending independent councillor Malcolm Meerabux on a seminar entitled “The Future of Policing”.

First published in News Watford Observer: Photograph of the Author by , Senior Reporter

Watford spends three times as much training its politicians as neighbouring council Three Rivers.

Figures released by the authorities showed Watford spent £29,438 training councillors on everything from social media, speed reading and how to be a “frontline councillor” compared to Three Rivers, which spent £8,220.

As well as session training councillors for their duties for various committees, Watford’s figures showed politicians also attended seminars at taxpayers’ expense on other items such as the police reforms and the resettling of convicts. They also attended local government conferences.

Watford’s elected mayor, Dorothy Thornhill has defended the costs, saying: “It’s really important to train councillors and I’m shocked other people aren’t training their councillors as much.

“We are assiduous in training our councillors and I have no problem equipping them to do a good job for residents.”

Among Watford’s highest spend was at the Local Government Association (LGA) conference, which Mayor Thornhill and her husband, Councillor Iain Sharpe, attended in 2010 and 2011. This raked up a bill of £2,028.

The following year Mayor Thornhill and Councillor Sharpe were joined by Liberal Democrat Rabi Martins at the LGA conference, incurring a cost of £1,485.

Mayor Thornhill added: “I would say councils do residents a disservice if they choose not to send representatives to the LGA. It’s so helpful because councillors from all over the country attend.”

She added: “We are a major town facing important changes and we want councillors to be competent and be able to deal with difficult situations.”

Figures showed Watford Liberal Democrat councillor and cabinet member of finance Mark Watkin attended £530 of individual training sessions, including sessions on speed reading and retention, a social networking “masterclass” and public speaking.

Watford Observer: Twitter

Mayor Thornhill defended the expenditure, saying: “Councillor Watkin is equipped to do his job and when I was first elected, I went on these courses.

“If you are in the spotlight, it’s really important you don’t let the town down and that you come across as competent. It’s important he feels he can speak with confidence and put the message across.”

Watford taxpayers also spent £249 sending independent councillor Malcolm Meerabux on seminars entitled “The Future of Policing” and “The Frontline Councillor – Skills for Community Leadership in a Time of Change”.

The council also spent £389 sending Liberal Democrat councillor Kelly McLeod on a seminar on “Successful Employment and the Resettlement of Offenders” and Labour councillor Jackie Connal on a social media skills course.

Dacorum Borough Council spent £24,137 and Hertsmere Borough Council’s total expenditure on council training costs was £10,643.

Hertsmere Borough Council spokesman Cath Shepherd said: “Members are clearly very conscious of the current financial restraints, and careful consideration is given to all expenditure.

“However, it is also important that they are kept updated with changes in legislation, such as the Localism Act which came into force in November 2011, to ensure clarity regarding their responsibilities and to assist them in decision-making.”

Three Rivers council solicitor Jane Redman said: “We have saved £2.5 million through efficiency gains and our commitment to cost efficiency includes the training of councillors, which is essential for ensuring the highest standards.”

Comments (6)

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8:16pm Fri 3 Jan 14

sh3rgar says...

Wow what an amazing story, council train councillors.

What other quality stories can we expect ?

Man crosses road............
People eat Turkey on Christmas Day..........
Wow what an amazing story, council train councillors. What other quality stories can we expect ? Man crosses road............ People eat Turkey on Christmas Day.......... sh3rgar
  • Score: 1

11:26pm Fri 3 Jan 14

Nick Lincoln says...

Watford’s elected mayor, Dorothy Thornhill has defended the costs, saying: “It’s really important to train councillors and I’m shocked other people aren’t training their councillors as much."

Only a true tax-n-spend socialist would come out with this arrant nonsense. Notice the emphasis put on training as a euphemism for spending.

Local councillors are supposed to be from us, with us, as us. That is the point of localism & local representation: they are "us". They are everyman.

That Mayor Thornhill makes such a show about councillors needing to be "trained" (Orwellian, to be kind) shows her complete isolation from those who, ultimately, pay her wages.
Watford’s elected mayor, Dorothy Thornhill has defended the costs, saying: “It’s really important to train councillors and I’m shocked other people aren’t training their councillors as much." Only a true tax-n-spend socialist would come out with this arrant nonsense. Notice the emphasis put on training as a euphemism for spending. Local councillors are supposed to be from us, with us, as us. That is the point of localism & local representation: they are "us". They are everyman. That Mayor Thornhill makes such a show about councillors needing to be "trained" (Orwellian, to be kind) shows her complete isolation from those who, ultimately, pay her wages. Nick Lincoln
  • Score: 1

1:02am Sat 4 Jan 14

rainbowwarrior says...

Nick Lincoln wrote:
Watford’s elected mayor, Dorothy Thornhill has defended the costs, saying: “It’s really important to train councillors and I’m shocked other people aren’t training their councillors as much."

Only a true tax-n-spend socialist would come out with this arrant nonsense. Notice the emphasis put on training as a euphemism for spending.

Local councillors are supposed to be from us, with us, as us. That is the point of localism & local representation: they are "us". They are everyman.

That Mayor Thornhill makes such a show about councillors needing to be "trained" (Orwellian, to be kind) shows her complete isolation from those who, ultimately, pay her wages.
Thought you normal left this sort of diatribe drivel to your mate Phil.

More nonsense about a nothing story from UKRAP - United Kingdom Really Anti Party.

By the way what do you think about with Nigel Farage's comments that the UK should honour the spirit of the 1951 UN convention and let Syrians into the country ?
[quote][p][bold]Nick Lincoln[/bold] wrote: Watford’s elected mayor, Dorothy Thornhill has defended the costs, saying: “It’s really important to train councillors and I’m shocked other people aren’t training their councillors as much." Only a true tax-n-spend socialist would come out with this arrant nonsense. Notice the emphasis put on training as a euphemism for spending. Local councillors are supposed to be from us, with us, as us. That is the point of localism & local representation: they are "us". They are everyman. That Mayor Thornhill makes such a show about councillors needing to be "trained" (Orwellian, to be kind) shows her complete isolation from those who, ultimately, pay her wages.[/p][/quote]Thought you normal left this sort of diatribe drivel to your mate Phil. More nonsense about a nothing story from UKRAP - United Kingdom Really Anti Party. By the way what do you think about with Nigel Farage's comments that the UK should honour the spirit of the 1951 UN convention and let Syrians into the country ? rainbowwarrior
  • Score: 2

11:05am Mon 6 Jan 14

rainbowwarrior says...

I haven't had an answer Nick? (was it to probing for you?)

By the way very impressed with your leader on Sky News. Nice to see that he agrees with Enoch Powell and the Rivers of Blood Speech. The same Enoch Powell that didn't know whether he was Labour, Conservative, or Ulster Unionist, so much so that he was even invited to stand for the National Front !

Yep vote UKRAP !
I haven't had an answer Nick? (was it to probing for you?) By the way very impressed with your leader on Sky News. Nice to see that he agrees with Enoch Powell and the Rivers of Blood Speech. The same Enoch Powell that didn't know whether he was Labour, Conservative, or Ulster Unionist, so much so that he was even invited to stand for the National Front ! Yep vote UKRAP ! rainbowwarrior
  • Score: 0

11:53am Mon 6 Jan 14

Nick Lincoln says...

Sorry "rainbowwarrior", I missed your earlier comment. I think it is absolutely right that we should let Syrians in to the country. I think you are confusing UKIPs stance on uncontrolled immigration from Europe with this country's long and noble history of offering sanctuary to those who need it.

Secondly, Nigel Farage agreed with the sentiment of a very small passage of Enoch Powell's speech that was read out to him by Mr Murnaghan, namely that through mass immigration "the indigenous population" found "their homes and neighbourhoods changed beyond recognition.” Rings true for an awful lot of people in this country.
Sorry "rainbowwarrior", I missed your earlier comment. I think it is absolutely right that we should let Syrians in to the country. I think you are confusing UKIPs stance on uncontrolled immigration from Europe with this country's long and noble history of offering sanctuary to those who need it. Secondly, Nigel Farage agreed with the sentiment of a very small passage of Enoch Powell's speech that was read out to him by Mr Murnaghan, namely that through mass immigration "the indigenous population" found "their homes and neighbourhoods changed beyond recognition.” Rings true for an awful lot of people in this country. Nick Lincoln
  • Score: 0

12:26pm Mon 6 Jan 14

rainbowwarrior says...

Nick Lincoln wrote:
Sorry "rainbowwarrior
", I missed your earlier comment. I think it is absolutely right that we should let Syrians in to the country. I think you are confusing UKIPs stance on uncontrolled immigration from Europe with this country's long and noble history of offering sanctuary to those who need it.

Secondly, Nigel Farage agreed with the sentiment of a very small passage of Enoch Powell's speech that was read out to him by Mr Murnaghan, namely that through mass immigration "the indigenous population" found "their homes and neighbourhoods changed beyond recognition.” Rings true for an awful lot of people in this country.
Nice controlled response. Perhaps you could teach Phil Cox a thing or two before he becomes a liability !
[quote][p][bold]Nick Lincoln[/bold] wrote: Sorry "rainbowwarrior ", I missed your earlier comment. I think it is absolutely right that we should let Syrians in to the country. I think you are confusing UKIPs stance on uncontrolled immigration from Europe with this country's long and noble history of offering sanctuary to those who need it. Secondly, Nigel Farage agreed with the sentiment of a very small passage of Enoch Powell's speech that was read out to him by Mr Murnaghan, namely that through mass immigration "the indigenous population" found "their homes and neighbourhoods changed beyond recognition.” Rings true for an awful lot of people in this country.[/p][/quote]Nice controlled response. Perhaps you could teach Phil Cox a thing or two before he becomes a liability ! rainbowwarrior
  • Score: 1

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