This blog is a political blog from a left-of-centre perspective. This is not specifically a party political blog, but does have a Lib Dem orientation. Constructive enagement with radical liberals, social democrats / democratic socialists and greens is particularly welcomed.

Friday, November 07, 2008

Torbay Mayor on 60K slams councillors on £8K a year

Yes, only in Torbay could the much derided Conservative Executive mayor Nick Bye, he of the rhetorical flourishes and 60K per annum 'allowance', publicly question whether councillors on £8,000 a year are justifying this figure. Let's not forget this is a man whose holiday allowance and time away from the Town Hall is far greater than anyone else I know in any regular workplace. How many holidays and cruises does this man have each year ?

Add to this the sacked former Tory group leader Kevin Carroll (but still Deputy Mayor) is on £30K a year and it needs to be questioned whether this 'leadership' pair are 'good value' to the Torbay taxpayer ! Talk about pot, kettles and black !

Failure to attend a meeting was what had Nick Bye shooting from the hip once again. But, Mr Bye, as you principally make all the decisions, there is little point in prioritising Town Hall meetings over constituent casework. Under the system you and your Tory colleagues promoted, one is left with impotent backbenchers, so quelle suprise that engagement of councillors (from all parties) under an elected executive mayor system of local government isn't great.

Below is the unedited letter to the local 'Herald Express on this subject :

I am appalled at the sideswipe at Councillor colleagues by Mayor Nick Bye. It is ironic that he questions the payment of £8,000 per year to backbench councillors when I believe few would contend that the £90,000 per annum paid to the mayor and his deputy represents 'good value' for taxpayers.

Allow me to put things in perspective. Prior to the last local election I surveyed over 30 councils, mostly unitary authorities, only to find that allowance paid in Torbay is broadly the average paid nationwide. The idea of a gravy train authority therefore doesn't stack up, bar the leadership's allowance, of course.

Further, as a candidate in the May 2007 elections, I can clearly say that had I been elected I would have been hit financially, due to loss of earnings and the likelihood of limited future advancement within the company I work for. Moreover, balancing full time work, family life and council commitments would have been very difficult, but I stood for council as I love the bay and sought a better way forward than the one the mayor and his fellow Conservatives were and are offering. Add to this the way coucillors are continually vilified in the media it is a wonder that anyone stands at all !

Having been a councillor on a hung council 'up country' years ago and having lived all over England and in areas that have been run by all 3 main parties, most councillors of all parties become such as they seek to represent their areas to their best abilities. Since those elections I have continued to work with the hard working Councillor Cindy Stocks in Ellacombe and remain active in the ward. Money is definitely not the motivating factor. I do so in my spare time.

Two of the councillors referred to by Mayor Bye, Jenny Faulkner and Robert Excell (one Lib Dem and one Conservative) both work hard for Tormohun. Indeed, under the present local government structure in Torbay, they are right to put casework before Town Hall meetings, as the ability of councillors to influence the all-powerful Conservative mayor's agenda or 'vision' is minimal.

Frankly, I am fed up with the pontificating of this egregious Mayor. He might like the council to continue to be unrepresentative of the bay, reflecting the aspirations of the few rather than the many, but a more diverse council is needed. That the council is in danger of being the preserve of the monied or retired classes is entirely unhealthy in my view. Yet again it is Bye whose judgment is wrong and his criticism misplaced.

Slurring the reputations of Torbay councillors is unwarranted. It is you Mayor Bye that brings Torbay Council into disrepute. However, take heart, the good people of Stoke on Trent after a referendum have thrown out the Mayoral model of local governance. My guess is that given a further referendum here the result would be the same as that in Stoke. Our day will come too to be rid of this undemocratic structure and maybe then it would be worth councillors attending most meetings again !

Yours Sincerely,

Barrie Wood

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Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Do Liberals annoy you ?

This gem can be found on LabourHome. The original text is this :

Do liberals annoy you?

jkitleft Sat Oct 11, 2008 at 12:22:27 PM GMT Print-friendly version Facebook
I am young, so I don't know many in my age group who would describe themselves as 'socialists', or 'social democrats'. Most describe themselves as liberals.

What does that mean exactly? They're 'liberal', because they are pro gay-rights, pro-choice, and anti death penalty.

They annoy the hell out of me.

Don't get me wrong, I think gay rights, a woman's right to choose, and the abolishment of the death penalty are incredibly important, and I support all three causes. But to me, social housing, minimum wage, parental leave, redistribution, the fight to end child poverty etc. are more important issues.

I resent being told that the Labour party is more right-wing than the Tories, by 'liberals' who publically admit to being snobs.

These liberals would easily vote fo Cameron: ooh look, he has had a picture taken with a polar bear. There he is with one, wait, TWO(!), gay shadow cabinet ministers. He must be such a progressive then...

You can call yourself left-wing if you come help Labour defend redistribution and equality. You can call yourself left-wing if you come join Labour in defending universal healthcare. You can't call yourself left-wing if you're only claim to liberalism is being 'green', while fanning yourself with industrial sized air conditioning in Whole Foods Market, but not giving a damn about the day to day issues that effect the working and lower middle classes of this country.

Ok, rant over.

Even more interesting are the comments to this. These can be found out :

Two quick points :

1) Few have any notion of any of the differing strands of Liberalism or understanding thereof

2) Remarkably many see their party as being on for 'liberals' !