Wednesday, April 21, 2010

More Bloated BBC Expenses

People rightly got very angry when MPs were found to have abused the expenses system, but I am constantly bemused at the lack of public anger over the expenses "incurred" by senior BBC bosses. These people are public servants too, yet are quite happy to trouser inflated salaries and then fleece the licence fee payer by abusing expenses.

Take Roger Wright, for instance. He's the controller of BBC Radio 3. Now that really must be a hugely challenging job. Mr Wright is on a salary of £200,000. Last year he claimed more than £7,000 in taxi fares, compared to only £4 for an underground ticket. In 2009 he claimed £3,561 for 11 nights in a top class London hotel (£323 a night) so he didn't have to go home after each night of the Proms. No doubt he then got a taxi from that top London hotel to his office each morning, and then from his office to the Albert Hall.

The BBC says that "as this is the peak holiday season in the capital, rooms can be expensive". Er, complete rubbish, actually. Presumably he knows in advance he is attending the Proms and can therefore book in advance. I could name him a dozen hotels where he'd be able to get a room to befit his status for well under half that amount. MPs, I think, have a limit of £140 a night on hotel stays in Westminster. Shouldn't the same apply to other public servants, like Roger Wright? Or is the controller of Radio 3 considered more important than an MP?

I'll tell you what, if the station manager of Classic FM has to stay in London overnight, I bet his private sector bosses wouldn't approve a £323 a night hotel stay. Or a £7k taxi bill.

22 comments:

ryan said...

Iain, will you also call out Stephen Nolan who flys to Manchester each weekend and is put up in a hotel at our expense also, and yet while he is on air hammers politicians of all hues for their expenses?

There are radio studios and production teams in Belfast perfectly capable of hosting his programme.

Tomfiglio said...

What's this about "a room to befit his status"? Are these people incapable of living like the rest of us? What would be wrong with a room at a Best Western or Travelodge? I don't understand the incredible arrogance and bloated self-regard of people who think they "deserve" over-priced luxury, especially at tax/licence payers' expense. If this person is too frail to travel home late at night, or is afraid of the nasty people who frequent the common person's transport system during the hours of darkness, he should send a more robust lackey in his place.

The Rt Hon. Grim Reaper said...

Iain, would I be correct in saying any staff member at Total Politics magazine who attempted to claim for a £323 per night stay in a hotel would be given a severe dressing down?

Iain Dale said...

Grim Reaper, they would be told to pay it themselves and then given a written warning! But they wouldn't dream of doing it anyway, so the question wouldn't arise.

Max Atkinson said...

Since the election started, I've had quite a number of phone calls from the BBC. Even though the callers all know the number of my land line, every single one has come to my mobile phone. Trivial, perhaps, but if there are thousands of BBC employees doing the same thing, the preference for phoning mobiles must be costing licence payers (needlessly) a fortune.

ACS said...

Iain,
Sadly your assertion for ClassicFM is possibly wide of the mark (though now that the station has changed ownership, again, maybe not).

I think I'm right in recalling that CFM's previous head honcho - the other Roger - (Roger Lewis), lived in Wales and had a driver pick him up most mornings and drive in to London. That's more than £7k on taxis!
Having said that, he did leave ludicrously early, something the Beeb probably wouldn't demand, and he did also build a popular and successful new radio station...

While I would generally agree with the tenor of your post, though, I do think that Roger Wright probably _does_ need to stay in good hotels during the Proms. It _is_ important that he is able to wine & dine the top international artists, it _is_ important that the visiting guests are made to feel welcome and appreciated, and you can't do that in an out-of-the-centre Travelodge, sorry. This isn't about finding somewhere to sleep for the night - he could do that in an OB truck outside the RAH, it's about much more than that. Presentation, influence, and much more - in order to be able to create another great Proms season the following year, a chance to get top artists involved and committed to other BBC schemes (such as the fantastic New Generation project)... and so on.

AVI

_ said...

Radio 3 does a lot more to please and edify the nation than any MP.

miggles said...

So one night in a hotel room = 2.5 years of my TV Licence or 79% of my 4 weekly pension. Hmmmm! Time to find a new way of funding the BBC?

The Rt Hon. Grim Reaper said...

Iain Dale said to me "Grim Reaper, they would be told to pay it themselves and then given a written warning! But they wouldn't dream of doing it anyway, so the question wouldn't arise."

Must be nice working for an employer who they're absolutely terrified of. ;-)

Andrew Harnwell said...

I suspect what really gets up your nose is Radio 3's refusal to play anything by Cliff and the Shads. Or Abba.

Wright is not only head of Radio 3, he is also Director of the Proms, an 8 week season of concerts.

A few nights in town during that season would not seem unreasonable for the bloke running the show. The amount claimed could well be reasonable. Entertainment? Paying for other employees? Do you have details?

Your approach to classical and world music is as knuckle-dragging as anything in the blogosphere.

Simon Gardner said...

Or is the controller of Radio 3 considered more important than an MP?

I’m presuming that’s rhetorical? Of course the controller of Radio 3 is more important than an MP. Pretty much everyone is more important than a backbench MP.

Doh!

Grand_Inquisitor said...

A pity that some of the money for the Proms is not spent on better sound equipment so that we could hear the music at its best.

Mark said...

Not sure that comparing a year worth of taxis to a single 4gbp underground trip is entirely valid, Iain, even with your dudgeon up and in full rhetorical flow.

A annual travelcard can be as much as 2.7k gbp.

The point still holds,so no need to exaggerate.

Personally find it hard to beleive that any individual delivers 200k of value in the first place, before expenses.

davidc said...

these are all 'world class' talent and ,if not rewarded appropriately, might consider approaches from other media organisations

and, yes it does take world class expenses to programme repeat after repeat of crap in the attic and car boot sale crap and property porn and diagnosis murder and murder she wrote and on and on till the last syllabal of recorded time

Gallimaufry said...

If I was charged £323 for a night in a hotel I would expect to keep the severe dressing gown ... and all the soaps, shampoos and towels. But I'd prefer a nice fluffy white one.

titus-aduxas said...

"Mark said...

Not sure that comparing a year worth of taxis to a single 4gbp underground trip is entirely valid, Iain, even with your dudgeon up and in full rhetorical flow.

A annual travelcard can be as much as 2.7k gbp."

I don't suppose that the taxi was used every working day of the working year, so your attempt at a comparison is rather wide of the mark.

Bill Quango MP said...

Pretty much everyone is more important than a backbench MP

I say,steady on. No need to get personal.

Ray said...

Grim reaper, if you are staying at a good hotel you need a severe dressing gown.

Cynic said...

I lived in hotels near the Albert Hall, for almost 4 years. At that time of the year he could have got a reasonable quality 4 star hotel in that area - very handy for his work - for about £120 a night in South Ken or even £100 to £110 if he strayed to the wilds of Earls Court.

thespecialone said...

What really angers me is that people who are funded by the taxpayer (the BBC) can get away with this. As an ex-navy man of 28 yrs, I can confirm that every penny I claimed for was scrutinised. If I said I went from A-B and it was 100 miles, but the official milage was 99 miles, I would be asked to rectify my claim. I have known people be heavily fined or even demoted for 'false claiming' for a few miles and therefore a few £££s. What planet do these BBC types live on?
Who cares what private companies do? As a taxpayer, I have no choice but to pay for BBC expenses. I dont have to pay for the private sector if I dont want to.

Cynic said...

£7000 a year on taxis is about £35 per working day. Off peak that would take you right across central London and back every day. How does he find time to work when he spends so much time in a cab?

Cynic said...

Dear Andrew

Your tone of smug condescension almost makes me think that Radio 3 should be next on the BBC chop list