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Council bans first class travel

PUBLISHED: 17:44 26 August 2009 | UPDATED: 21:39 07 July 2010

A district council in Suffolk has banned its members from claiming first class rail travel in the wake of the MPs' expenses scandal.

The restrictions are part of a new allowance scheme for councillors, which have been drawn up by Forest Heath District Council to ensure the public is getting the best value from its elected representatives.

A district council in Suffolk has banned its members from claiming first class rail travel in the wake of the MPs' expenses scandal.

The restrictions are part of a new allowance scheme for councillors, which have been drawn up by Forest Heath District Council to ensure the public is getting the best value from its elected representatives.

Under the new rules, members' claims will be capped at 40p per mile for car journeys, regardless of their vehicle's engine size.

If travelling by public transport, they will only be able to claim for second class or cheap day fares, unless there is an exceptional reason to go by first class and is approved by the chief executive.

Claims for long car journeys will also be capped at the cost of carrying out the same journey by public transport, when there is a suitable and reasonable alternative.

The decision comes as local authorities across the region tighten their belts during the recession and attempt to become more transparent following the outrage surrounding MPs' expenses earlier this year.

Council leader Geoffrey Jaggard said: “We are very, very conscious of taxpayers' money and we need to keep all of our spending under a tight rein.”

The recommendations were made by Forest Heath District Council's independent remuneration panel, which helps the council decide how much to pay members in allowances.

However, the new rules over travel and subsistence claims do not apply to the council's own staff.

A spokeswoman for the council said: “The rules regarding travel and subsistence for council officers are set out in their terms and conditions of employment. The rules for members are set by the council after considering the report of the independent remuneration panel.”

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