It was announced today that the Leader of Staffordshire County Council is recommending that all County Councillors accept a freeze in allowances for the coming year.
I think this is a very noble gesture given the recent news that public sector workers pay is to be frozen this year.
Many private sector workers are also facing the prospect of no pay rises and some are even facing pay cuts or worse still reduced time working as the Country struggles it’s way out of one of the worse recessions in global history.
Next week sees the Annual Budget meeting of Stoke-on-Trent City Council and there have been murmurings of the Labour Group tabling an alternative budget.
It would seem that the Labour Group are against cuts to front line services and I think they should be applauded for this. But will they be tempted to do the really socialist thing and propose a freeze for councillors allowances in empathy of all those whom they serve?
Now, I have often said that I have thought that the pay of our councillors excludes a wide range of society and I still stand by that 100%. But, desperate times call for desperate measures.
Cllr Joy Garner reacted angrily to the then BNP Group Leader Alby Walkers suggestion the Councillors ought not vote themselves an increase last time round.
Perhaps that isn’t surprising considering the fact that Cllr Garner pulled a healthy sum of over £26000 for her duties in her ward and the Council chamber in the previous financial year. Which is a whole not more than some of those public sector workers who will not see a salary increase this coming year and a damn site more than many private sector workers who live everyday in fear for their jobs.
The Labour group have made quite a lot of the possible closure of Tunstall pool and in a Sentinel article today Cllr Garner and Cllr Gratton hit out at the Cabinet member for Sport and Leisure Derek Capey, for holding ‘private’ meetings about the Pool and the transfer of Burlem Gymnastic Centre to Dimensions.
It has already been announced that the Pool is safe for this year and in all probability the discussions were centred around the long term viability and the options available in the future.
How interesting though that these two councillors in particular should be so vociferous in their objections to the closure of a pool that is in desperate need of refurbishment. I would think that they understand that is is right and proper that the Cabinet look at all the options for providing provisions such as these and assessing the long term viability. The possibility that the council may look to provide better swimming facilities at Dimensions to cater for all the existing users of Tunstall Pool should not be dismissed out of hand.
What a pity that these two particular councillors did not make more of a fuss when they voted for the closure of Dimensions just two years ago when they were part of the EMB. Where were the loud calls then ladies eh?
Everyone knows that the true Dimensions heroes were Cllr Jean Edwards and of course Cllr Dave Conway. Dave so so dismayed by the actions and behaviour of the then Labour Group that he ultimately left to join the CIG.
I can’t help wondering whether their silence was more down to the fact that they were drawing a healthy remuneration package from the Elected Mayor for their compliance in one of the most misjudged and ill-conceived decisions ever to be attempted in this City.
I for one will look to next weeks Annual Budget meeting of the Full Council for an example that true socialist principles are not dead in this City.
I hope Mohammed Pervez and his Labour Group show some empathy with those public and private sector employees who are struggling to keep a roof over their heads and their kids clothed and fed.