This Friday there will be a meeting of the East of England's European and International Affairs Panel. I do not approve of regional government or quangos but this quarterly meeting is the only local scrutiny of the hundreds of millions of British taxpayers' pounds that are sent off to Brussels and then recycled (with costly bureaucracy) before being spent by UK quangos and government departments in our own local area. Sadly the panel has no decision making power but it is at least an opportunity to question.
For the nine months, I have attended these meetings and put my questions. Our leading Conservative MEP has also used this opportunity to question. BUT for 5 years our two UKIP MEPs have never shown their faces or asked a question - despite UKIP constantly claiming how they will stand up against EU waste.
As I am no longer an elected councillor I can't ask my questions this week. But I have read the papers and forwarded my questions to Conservative Councillors who will be there. I have many.
Not only is the information incredibly poorly presented (it is almost impossible even for someone who is experienced in unpicking financial statements to get a clear picture of budgets - I've been saying this since my first meeting), but I also have detailed questions about where our money is going.
One example - last week the UK Arts council of the UK announced that it will not be funding any new projects in this recession, but EU money has just been allocated to "a programme of cross-channel contemporary arts tours" and "to exploit the film archives of the regions of East Anglia and Haute Normandie ...for communities to better understand their joint history".
Is it any wonder members of the public are so cross about where their money is going?