Who says money makes the world go round?
On Saturday, Boston United were on FA Trophy duty against Skelmersdale – a competition which saw the Pilgrims knocked out at Dartford last season.
A place where most fans left talking about one thing... the stadium.
Princes Park is a unique ground, with Anfield-esque gates to greet and inspire fans, a nice money-spinning bar and function rooms and a fantastic six metre-high wooden man standing as an imposing fan in the middle of the terracing.
Since the ground’s opening six years ago this month, Dartford have gone from strength to strength and, after defeating the Pilgrims, have since won promotion to the Blue Square Bet Premier (their second promotion since moving home).
The ground was paid for by Dartford Borough Council at a cost of £7 million.
It’d be nice if the Pilgrims could get a little hand out similar to this, yes? Well, they’ve tried. But each time chairman David Newton has approached them, he’s been offered assistance with relocation, but been told – to quote - “we don’t have any money.”
Fair enough. But in the Boston Standard a fortnight ago, I see Boston Borough Council chief executive Richard Harbord is receiving a salary of £121,500 per year for a 15-day-per-month contract (conveniently paid to a business account).
That’s £675 per day... for a part-time job. I think I need to see if he has an agent.
Defending Mr Harbord’s part-time salary of £121,500 was council leader Coun Peter Bedford, who stated the chief exec was ‘excellent value for money.’ Fair enough.
But looking at the figures that state Terry Huggins, the outgoing chief executive of both South Holland AND Breckland district councils earns £124,000 a year, I’d beg to differ.
(Incidentally, councillors also voted to give themselves a 20 per cent rise in their special allowances last week).
Mr Harbord was, of course, brought here to turn the council’s finances around, and he’s doing that (it’s certainly raising more money from me when I park in town after 6pm or pee at the park).
But in a town which still has an obesity tag - and in an Olympic year - it’d be nice to see a little cash put aside for sport.
A quick email to the council press office saw them kindly reply with the following statement: “PRSA (BSI) has had over £57,000 funding so far in 2012-13 (budget of £88,000). We also provide discretionary rate relief to some sports clubs. There are no other sport club payments.”
I’m not sure what the rate relief amounts to, but I’m guessing this total is not as much cash as the Mr Harbord earns.
I’m not saying any football club has a divine right to be bought a new stadium.
The point I’m making is that in a borough of 65,000 residents, those sports clubs that bring so much joy to so many are doing it with a small amount of, if any, aid from the council.
The council is quick to jump on the bandwagon and hold civic receptions when the likes of Melanie Marshall and Callum Johnson win gold medals at the Commonwealth Games. But are those having their pictures taken with our achievers the ones aiding their successes?
Those clubs, and the people behind them should be extremely proud of the work they do – and the talents they help nurture.
Perhaps these are the hard-working people we would love to see stand for election in the borough.