Well, here’s a thought – “Councillors are transient amateurs whose chosen hobby is to play at local politics” – and as a result, it is the councillors (not the rest of us) who should foot the bill.
Gesture wanted from councillors
Once again the Canterbury Times has highlighted that old chestnut of the allowances and expenses paid to Canterbury City Councillors (“Councillors pocket £386k“, June 17). Former Royal Marine Commando and war veteran Albert Parris, from Herne, is not the only local council taxpayer to be dismayed and infuriated by these amounts, which total more than £386,000 and individually range from almost £32,000 down to the much more modest basic allowance of just £4,710.
At a time when local council taxpayers are set to experience cutbacks in services, and local authority staff face redundancies, it would be a welcome token gesture if all 50 local councillors refrained from claiming their allowances/ expenses, thus substantially increasing the amount of money available in the council’s coffers to maintain local services and jobs.
Councillor McMahan is very quick to defend the allowances claimed by his colleague Peter Vickery-Jones but scores an own-goal when he states: “We pay council officials more than councillors claim.” In saying this, Mr McMahan entirely misses the point – the fundamental distinction between officials and councillors. Officials receive a wage or salary for carrying out a given task in accordance with a written contract of employment. They are the permanent paid employees of the local authority.
Councillors, on the other hand, are transient amateurs whose chosen hobby is to play at local politics. It is not their livelihood. Everyone is entitled to a recreational sport, hobby or pastime but for most people, whether they choose to play golf or to collect stamps, this costs them money. Is it fair then that council tax payers should foot the bill for some 50 “elected representatives” to indulge in their preferred passion for local politics?
To all those councillors who are so quick to defend the allowances/ expenses claimed, backed up with heart-rending statistics concerning the number of hours of “work” they put in each week on council business, I would repeat the following words, attributed to former US president Harry S Truman: “If you can’t stand the heat, get out of the kitchen.“
John A Fishpool, Dering Road, Herne Bay
HB Times letters 8th July 2010