Towards the end of the Today programme this morning (follow link and go to 2:47:20) they covered a new survey from the New Local Government Network asking for more cash for councillors (See press release). They claim that young people are put off from being councillors because allowances are too mean. The NLGN survey cites strong support for better allowances from young councillors and warns of the risk of losing a “golden generation of young politicians”.
In the spirit of debate the Today editors put a young Labour councillor from Waltham Forest, Miranda Grell, up against a retiring Independent of 36 years standing, Robin Page. Young Ms Grell, only elected in May, whinged:
It’s like a full-time job these days. It’s extremely demanding, it’s emotionally exhausting, physically punishing, mentally draining.
Poor dear! It sounds like she is trying to be an amateur social worker instead of holding her social services department to task to provide a good service.
Councillor Page did rather blow her off the stage:
Self service has replaced public service. … Now I see self-servers and they want the allowances to match the size of their own egos. And they see Council Tax as a hole in the wall and they can just take the money out.
As we see in Parliament as you pay people more money you don’t necessarily get a better quality of MP or councillor. To call them a golden generation is an absolute joke.
I hate to sound like an old fogey, I am 45 this month myself, but if inexperienced young people want more cash to take part in local politics then maybe we should content ourselves with older folk who have more life experience and are happy to contribute for a small allowance rather than a full salary. More for less? Yes please.