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Public sector waste

Do young councillors want too much?

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”.

miranda-grell.jpgIn 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.

9 replies on “Do young councillors want too much?”

They should scrap the cllrs salarys and make it voluntary, this should then get rid of the people who are just in it for the money (accept Labour because the party is corrupt from top to bottom!) this would filter out people, leaving those who actually care for their community to do this very responsible and privillaged role.

and this is from an 18 year old! : – )

Thanks for your comments, Phil. I indeed spend a lot of time working with my social services department. You can’t really do that when people are calling you with emergencies on Christmas day though, particularly the harrowing situations I had to deal with this year, that would have been irresponsible to ignore whilst we waited for offices to reopen days later. I don’t know about the ward you represent but mine has many socio economic and social challenges. Allowances are part of, not the whole, story. Better recognition of the work that councillors (of all parties) do is just as important. I hope you would agree. Kindest regards. Miranda

Miranda,

Great to hear from you and thank you so much for commenting.

My ward is indeed relatively well to do but you get hard cases everywhere. That is all beside the point though.

I am one of those people who believes that if we are not careful we will “professionalise” all of our volunteers and end up paying everyone to be good citizens. Our public sector is already way too large and if we pay school govenors, sports club organisers, JPs, councillors, carers, church wardens, boy scout leaders, etc we will find that our state collapses.

We all need to accept that we need to look after ourselves, if we can, by working and earning a living. Beyond that, to be considered a full and complete person, we need to do something to help others and make our society better.

We need everyone to make a contribution and do it for free if we are going to have the society we all want.

Phil

Well, I think we’ll have to agree to disagree on this one but I thoroughly respect your views. I am sure this is one that will run and run…Kindest regards. Miranda

I think your promotion of public service for ‘free’ or for a ‘small’ allowance is a tad hypocritical considering that you personally voted for your own unprecedented and exorbitant rise to councillors’ allowances last July. You transformed allowances into full salaries for Cllrs Stacey, Gibb and Pagan and now you contend that councillors elsewhere should ‘be happy to contribute for a small allowance rather than a full salary’ or ‘do it for free.’ Surely it’s about time you started practising what you preach!

Here in Waltham forest, our councillors’ basic pay was £33 a year below the London councils’ average until they voted themselves a 30% pay rise this year – that’s put them up where they feel they belong! Too bad they had to close a library, reduce our museum and William Morris gallery to part-time opening, sell off historic buildings that had been left to the borough, cancel evening classes, price local groups out of using the Assembly Rooms etc etc etc.

I tried to lobby my councillor – who now earns more for this part-time role than I do from my full-time job – about our library being closed. But he didn’t find time to attend his own surgeries or answer emails.

Big pay doesn’t necessarily get you good councillors. And by attracting freeloaders, It could even make matters worse.

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