More pay, more value

Even taking into account the whopping 27 per cent pay rise they have just given themselves, Peterborough city councillors should be paid more.

Thursday, 6th April 2017, 11:55 am
Updated Tuesday, 9th May 2017, 6:36 pm
Thornton on Thursday column with Peterborough Telegraph's deputy editor Nigel Thornton -

No it’s April the 6th not the 1st!

I am serious and sincere in this belief but of course there is a but, in fact there are several buts.

A council, even a relatively small one like Peterborough is a big business and big businesses need talented people to run them.

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And talented people don’t come cheap – certainly they don’t come at a yearly cost of £10,100 which is what a basic councillor’s pay, or allowance as they like to call it, comes to.

Council leader John Holdich was, unfairly in my opinion, lumped in with ‘shameless councillors’ in a story in The Sun highlighting councillors’ pay in the context of council tax increases.

As leader he earns much more at £30,300 than a backbench councillor. But he is the head of an organisation that employs 1,300 people, provides services to 200,00 people and with an annual budget of £432m.

That is not a part-time job. That is not a job for which the going rate should be £30,300 (which incidentally takes Wayne Rooney 17 hours to earn).

The council chamber in Peterborough like so many up and down the country is dominated by middle to old aged men.

They often don’t have a ‘proper job’ either because they are independently wealthy, retired or claiming benefts. Most people who have conventional jobs simply can’t afford the time required to do justice to the important role of being a councillor. And that is not good for democracy.

Being a councillor should be a full-time job and the pay should reflect that.

But (here comes one) in return we should have fewer councillors. Peterborough City Council has a staggering 60 councillors.

What do they all do?

Some of them work incredibly hard on our behalf but some of them seem to be in training for a place in the House Of Lords – where they could pop in, do bugger all and trouser a hefty wedge courtesy of the taxpayer.

But (here’s another one) our “smaller in number but bigger in pay packet’’ councillors would be expected to earn their cash.

That means better leadership, better opposition and better value for money for the taxpayer.

Taking a 27 per cent rise at a time of austerity and cuts was crass and insensitive but the fact remains councillors deserve more... and so do we.

Primus inter pares?

With the soon-come formation of the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Combined Authority and a new mayor, I’ve been interested (some would say obsessed) with our posh neighbours in the south.

The very different nature of Cambridge and Peterborough means they have very different needs which I doubt a new mayor can deliver.

So I was taken by a news item about a spate of graffiti in Cambridge.

Maybe the two cities aren’t so different after all, I thought.

But then I read on and discovered the graffiti was in Latin... quite different after all.

The hole truth

I have some sympathy for Peterborough City Council after it was forced to pay out £10,000 (it is yours and my money after all) to a wealthy Ferrari owner after his car was damaged by a pothole.

The city council is responsible for hundreds of roads and Main Street, Ufford was never going to be its top priority.

In an ideal world all our roads would be in top condition – but we live in a world where according to charity Bernardos 3.7 million children live in poverty in the UK.

Whoever was responsible, whoever was at fault that £10,000 should have been spent in a better way than repairing a £150,000 supercar.

It’s been reported that the Ferrari owner is to donate the £10,000 to a children’s charity, so at least there’s a good ending to a sorry tale.

We’ll drink to that

Nene Park Trust is to unveil ambitious plans for the next 30 years to business leaders at Opportunity Peterborough’s Bondholder Spring Drinks on May 24.

Do you think when they’ve drained their glasses they could get round to telling the rest of us about these plans?

After all the trust says its work continues to be based on its original aim: “To provide for the recreation of the public by the provision of a park for the benefit of the inhabitants of Peterborough and visitors with the object of improving the conditions of life for such persons.’’

I understand the need for the trust to woo potential sponsors and partners but why should they get to hear of the plans before the people of Peterborough?

Diary Of A Bad Dad

A survey by Danish experts has revealed that older women make better mums... but there is no mention of whether older dads deserve such an accolade.

The survey points to financial security and psychological maturity as two reasons why older mums triumph.

In theory you could transfer those atributes to dads.

In theory... but a combination of austerity and the price and proliferation of Frozen/Thomas the Tank Engine toys, books, plates and plasters cast serious doubt on the first.

And as for the second, I’m not sure how psychologically mature it is to sulk for several hours after my football team has been beaten by a boring, cheating... (sorry a bit like my team, I’m losing it again).

My kids don’t seem to mind that I’m an older dad. In fact I don’t think they even notice – after all every kid thinks his parents are ancient.

Generally, I’m the fun parent although that was tested when Schoolgirl T asked her mum if she could have a cat. “No darling, daddy’s allergic to cats and they make him poorly.’’ Schoolgirl T thought about this for a few moments then said: “Can we have one when daddy dies?’’ Tough luck kidder, I’m going nowhere!