Sunday, 9 November 2014

So that's why AM's are using Tripadvisor

The Wasting Mule National seems to be going through one of its periods of righteous indignation ,
First   yesterday we heard that Assembly Members and their staff have spent more time on Facebook than any other website – including search engines, news sites and the Assembly’s own home page, figures have revealed.

In July 2014 the social networking site was clicked on 218,000 times – averaging around 6,400 visits per day.

It was accessed from Assembly staff’s computers more often than the search engine Google, which had 74,000 hits in July.

Their computers visited Facebook 196,000 times in August, as well as the travel website Tripadvisor and

But in September, the end of the Assembly’s recess, Facebook usage plummeted to 26,000 hits.

Apart from asking are things any different amongst the Mules staff I find my self in agreement  (and regular readers will know how rare this is) with Peter Black
Who writes.
The paper drags up a spokesperson from the Taxpayer’s Alliance, who says that: “Taxpayers will wonder why their money is being spent on politicians’ Facebook visits.
“Wales, like the rest of the UK, faces some fundamental challenges. There is quite enough important work for everybody in the Assembly to be getting on with.
“There must be a crackdown on internet time wasting.”
What world does he live in? Not only do I interact often with my constituents using Facebook but I also get casework through that website. No doubt the Taxpayer's Alliance still use messenger pigeons to talk to each other
The Mule Online is on safer ground when ot reports that .Assembly members living near Cardiff could soon be stopped from claiming back cash for hotel stays in the city.

They say

The proposals are being considered by the body that determines politicians’ pay.
The Independent Remuneration Board says it’s hard to justify the cost of a hotel for an AM living within an hour’s travel time of the capital, when many ordinary people commute a similar distance every day.
At least one AM living just down the road in Newport worked up a bill of more than £1,000 on hotel stays between 2012 and 2013.

The board is currently consulting with AMs, future election candidates and the public on a range of changes to AMs’ allowances from May 2016.

Currently AMs in Mid and West Wales as well as North Wales can claim £8,820 each year for overnight stays, which is generally used for rented accommodation in Cardiff up to a maximum of £735 a month, while members representing Gower, Neath, Swansea East and Swansea West can claim £3,420.

Members who represent constituencies, known as the “inner-area”, can claim a maximum of £1,425 for overnight stays in Cardiff every year – but this could soon be scrapped.

AMs will still be able to apply for reimbursement in exceptional circumstances.

“The board is... in agreement with HMRC that it is difficult, save in exceptional circumstances to justify the cost of a hotel for a member living within approximately an hour’s travel time of the Assembly,” the consultation document reads.

The board has also proposed, in the next Assembly, provision for AMs to argue that the geography of their constituency means they should qualify for residential accommodation.

Mohammad Asghar, Conservative AM for South Wales East who is based in Newport, was previously reported to have worked up a bill of more than £1,200 staying in Cardiff hotels during a two-year period. He stayed in Cardiff for 20 nights in 2012 and 2013, according to the AM’s expenses database.

A Welsh Conservatives spokesman said:

 “The hotel bookings were not made by Mohammad Asghar, but by members’ business services to allow him to perform his duties as an assembly member and were within the rules of the National Assembly.”

Jeff Cuthbert, the AM for Caerphilly who is due to stand down at the next election, was listed on the AM’s expenses database as having stayed in Cardiff for 12 nights during 2012/13, and two in 2013/14, worth a total of £894.65. His home is in Hengoed.

He said: 
“Any hotel stay would have been because I was attending a late evening event and  I would have been back down to the Assembly for an early morning start.”
Maybe this explains the visits by AM to Tripadvisor?

There's an answer to this .

Th assembly should consider buying  one or a number of buildings convert them into Flats and AMs should who need to stay in Cardiff .

These should then be allocated to that AMs replacement and some could be reserved for overnight  stays for the likes of Mr Asghar and Cuthburt,

As an initial expense it may raise some  hackles but it should pay for itself in 10 years and save money in the future.

Any Am who doesn't want to live in these "One Bedroom Flats" can pay for their own accommodation.


  1. I used to like the idea of converting/leasing out a building somewhere close to the Senedd for on-demand apartments for AMs, but hiring out a hotel room (the usual outlay is around £75 per night) is probably a lot cheaper, even over the longer-term.

    I can understand the need for overnight hotel stays, but there'll always be one or two who spoil it for the rest by not using it in the right spirit or seeing the £1,425 as a "minimum spend" not an upper limit.

    It's a basic principle that politicians shouldn't have to "pay to do their job" or that job might become a preserve for the independently wealthy. Despite that, in terms of expenses generally, I'd be more concerned about meal allowances and claiming expenses for certain items under - for argument's sake - £20, which really should come out of the AM's own pocket.

    1. "It's a basic principle that politicians shouldn't have to "pay to do their job" or that job might become a preserve for the independently wealthy."

      That doesn't stop serial trough divers like millionaire Peter Hain though.

      Anyway, back to the post. You can generate more hits to a story on FB than almost any other medium, that rag should know this more than most as its FB likes figure is almost four times its daily sales total and they are generating crappy lists and click bait in order to target online customers.