Sunday, 7 October 2007

Pay peanuts.....get monkeys

The standard Councillor's allowance for Hartlepool is just under £5,000 a year, of course Cabinet Members get double that and the Mayor gets over 10 times more but the average back bench Councillor gets about £90 a week. From this any Councilor with earnings from a real job has to pay the appropriate level of Income Tax. Councillor's Allowances do not count for Pension.

There is considerable debate on whether Councillors are good value for money. My answer is that people get what they deserve. If you vote in the same old faces then that's called democracy. If you vote in the same old Party Political Hacks then that again is called democracy. It applies to any elected post. Do you think the people of Hartlepool choose their MP? Not so, the Labour Party Choose Hartlepool's MP. Thousands of residents of Hartlepool didn't vote for Ian Wright (In fact 51% of a 51% turnout actually voted Labour in the 2005 General Election, making it just over 1 in 4 of those entitled to vote actually voted for Labour in Hartlepool in 2005).

As regards Councillors then if you pay peanuts you get monkeys (Apart from the Mayor of course, there you got a Monkey who is paid very very well indeed). This is why Councillors are mainly pensioners, on social security or in public sector job which allows them unlimited paid time off to attend meetings. Very, very few Councillors actually have to work for a living and those that do have to very carefully prioritise which meetings they attend so as to minimise lost earnings or to avoid ending up without any holiday time left. If the public want full time Councillors then they should pay them full time wages. The only full time Councillor in Hartlepool is the Mayor and he receives over 12 times my annual allowance, my attendance at meetings is much higher than the Mayors in proportion to what our respective allowances are. If I was being paid over £1,000 a week then I'm sure I could attend more meetings. As it is I'll continue to use my best judgement on what meetings I need to attend and which are a waste of my time and hence the public's money.

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