"The local evening paper has once again reported on the story of Rupert, not the bear with the yellow scarf and red jumper, but Northamptonshire County Councillor Rupert Reichhold.
Rupert lives here in the picturesque East Northamptonshire town of Oundle.
He does not drive and although Oundle has an hourly direct X4 bus service to Northampton he takes a taxi to council meetings, the £102 cost of which he claims as expenses. He has claimed between £3,000 and £5,000 each year for the last six years for travel and subsistence [that's tea and buns - fbb]. Being "of a certain age" [boo to euphemisms, he is 73 - fbb] the return bus trip from County Hall to Oundle would be free, using his bus pass; and if his meeting did not start before mid-day the trip from Oundle to County Hall would be free as well."
And the bus stop is only 5 minutes away from his front door. Alan continues ...
"In mitigation, Rupert used to be a civil servant at the Department for Transport; a place where lurk several folks with strange ideas about buses and trains (e.g Cambridge Misguided Busway, Inter City Express Project, Moderation of Competition). In the year from April 2010 to March 2011 Rupert and his chums on Northamptonshire county council claimed £1.16 million in allowances and expenses. They have budgeted a measly £1 million for public transport subsidy this year."
Each panel of a Rupert Bear story came with a suitable little verse; like this one:-
From 2001 to 2009 County Councillor Rupert's assignments included Fostering Panel, Personnel Committee and Assistant Cabinet Member, Transport. (You really couldn't make it up!)
fbb wonders whether it would be a good idea NOT to pay any councillors (anywhere, not just in Northamptonshire) for car expenses, or provide free parking, but issue them all with a free bus pass. What effect might that have, muses fbb, on their political decisions about public transport?
Neither fbb, nor the local "rag", has any knowledge of a telling medical reason why Rupert cannot travel by bus. It will take twice as long as than the taxi, of course, but councillors are there to serve the public. Here is one way in which one councillor could do better. And learn a bit about public transport as well!
Next blog : due Wednesday June 8th