Last weekend, I had a business trip to Lyon in France where I was meeting a Belgian businessman who had served as an MP for the Flemish Parliament.
We briefly touched on Brexit but what he said next resonated with me – “the big problem we have is that European MP’s are paid €6,000 net per month, with taxes and social security, it would cost an employer in Belgium €250,000 a year to deliver that pay.” He continued “What happens is that politicians therefore have to protect their pay because nobody else could afford to pay them and they give up their principles to follow the party line.”
I then thought back to the Full Council meeting recently where I asked questions about the status of Richmond Green and noted that there was absolutely no contribution to discussions from the majority of Liberal Democrat Councillors – so much so that, with the only questions posed by Conservative and Independent Councillors, the meeting looked adversarial when actually all that was being discussed were the concerns of residents.
Why would you be quiet? Well 23 of the Councillors in attendance that evening received allowances in excess of £19,000 per annum for their part time “service” when a full time Healthcare Assistant at St Helier is paid £18,957 – is that fair? Is it value for money?
Per capita of population, our Councillors receive some of the highest remuneration – because that is what it is, taxable pay – of any of the local Boroughs and when, at a recent Full Council meeting, it was suggested the current allowances were frozen to put something back in the pot for the Charles Cryer Theatre, the idea was rejected.
We can change the political balance on May 3rd and I for one would encourage those serving the local residents to perhaps forgo a proportion of their allowances – after all, the Liberal Democrats generously give 10% of their allowances to………the Liberal Democrats, to pay for the leaflets that tumble through your letterbox. Perhaps there is a more deserving cause!