Monday, April 27, 2015

Free Councillors

Underpaid Councillors

Heard a local councillor on the TV saying that he would not be standing for election again as he could not afford it. Couldn't follow his point very well as Councillors in most councils get close to £10,000 a year and committee chairpersons get considerably more.  surely this is sufficient to cover any loss of earnings for attending a few daytime meetings.

Once upon a time public spirited folk stood for election in order to serve their local communities, not for payment or perks.

When my Dad was on the council of the Metropolitan Borough council of Stepney in 1928 there were no payments of any kind.  Councillors, which included Clem Attlee  as well as my dad, did their day jobs and attended council meetings in the evenings, quite often until late.

When I was a councillor and later Alderman of the Borough of Lewisham in the 1950s there were still no payments for being a councillor.  During my term legislation was introduced to allow the payment of travelling expenses. . To attend committee and council meetings   I would drive to the town hall, pay parking fees but was only able to claim bus fares, despite the fact that there often no buses running by the time extended meetings finished.  I did not claim my expenses at any time as I refused to be part of such an insulting system.

When I had a term as Deputy Mayor I was even further out of pocket. We had an official car to take Jean and I to various functions that the Mayor could not attend, but there was no provision for paying for a babysitter whilst we were away from home.

There is no reason why anyone should be out of pocket by being an elected representative of the people, but I doubt very much back then, that anyone was ever deterred from standing for election because there were no payment for actually doing the job.  

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