Councillors should be paid more (only joking!)

Thornton on Thursday column with Peterborough Telegraph's deputy editor Nigel Thornton - peterboroughtoday.co.uk
Thornton on Thursday column with Peterborough Telegraph's deputy editor Nigel Thornton - peterboroughtoday.co.uk

Politicians wonder why the general public don’ t hold them in very high regard.. and then Peterborough City councillors go and award themselves a collective pay increase of £186,000!

Whether it’s stupid, arrogant, justified, or fair, one thing is for sure... it is politically naive.

Do they really expect the public not to blow a collective gasket?

Do they care?

Whether or not the councillors deserve the increase is frankly irrelevant.

Context is king. The context is that this is the council that has just agreed a deal with a private company which will see 74 decent, hard-working families evicted from their homes, some just before Christmas.

The context is that this is a council that is battling savage funding cuts that has seen councillors do everything from privatising fostering to cutting grass cutting and putting up council tax bills.

The context is that times are tough for most ordinary Peterborians and they expect some leadership both political and moral from the people who they gave their votes to.

The mealy-mouthed arguments for the increase don’t hold water.

They hide behind the fact that an independent panel has recommended the rise.

An independent panel might well recommend a pay increase for a mechanic from Westwood or a nursery worker from Fletton but if the organisation which employs them can’t afford such a rise then it won’t happen no matter how justified it is.

And the argument that an increase is needed to attract a better class of councillor is served up with enough irony to fill several town halls.

Many councillors are hard working, decent conscientious, community- spirited people who are deserving of respect.

But this decision shows a lack of respect for the ordinary man and woman of Peterborough – the people the councillors are supposed to represent.

Which is perhaps why when this newspaper e-mailed every single city councillor asking them to explain their decision many of them couldn’t be bothered to reply.

And politicians wonder why the general public doesn’t hold them in very high regard.

What a whopper

I’ve never been fishing in my life despite the fact that in West Yorkshire where I grew up landing a whopper is a rite of passage for young lads.

I never thought I’d missed out...until I read last week’s angling page in the PT.

Our correspondent, Ken Wade, revealed top angler and Peterborough postman John Whincup had won £70,000 prize money in a single match taking his winnings so far this year close to £100,000!

You can’t carp at that.

Parting shot

The last sermon from the departing Dean of Peterborough Cathedral The Very Rev Charles Taylor was quite something. The Church Times reported that referring to his retirement the dean said said: “...some have alleged that the manner in which it was effected was legally dubious, morally reprehensible, and pastorally disgraceful. Well, they might care to think that. I could not possibly comment.”

I wonder if his leaving present was a House Of Cards box set?

Diary Of A Bad Dad

Soft play didn’t exist when I was a child – not unless you count jumping on the settee. And that was always a high risk option as it usually ended with a clip round the ear.

Now there are whole businesses devoted to it and for parents of toddlers – such facilities are a godsend, particularly when the weather is not great.

The family Thornton were at Sacrewell Farm’s excellent softplay centre recently for yet another birthday party.

Schoolgirl T is old enough now to play on her own without anxious dad having to follow a step behind her in case of a stumble.

But Toddlernator the Terrible, although totally fearless, still needs a close adult eye on him.

Mrs T claimed a bad back so it was left to me to drag my ageing bones across the apparatus in a bid to keep up with T the T. I fear I looked like a cross between a competitor in Ninja Warrior and Last Of The Summer Wine.

My Achilles Heel is my, er, knees and I’m starting to develop a phobia about getting stuck at the top of a soft play centre.

I can picture my embarrassment as a firemen rescues me (to the applause of assorted swooning yummy mummies) and then an ET snapper turns up to capture it for posterity.