Your columnist Observer asked a number of questions in his column about proposed changes to staff terms and conditions at Boston Borough Council.
He suggested that the changes will not apply to senior staff at the borough council. In fact the proposed changes are across the board.
Pay has been frozen for all at the council since 2010. This year there was a one per cent pay increase agreed nationally, except for chief executives and chief officers where an increase was NOT agreed. Voluntarily Boston’s heads of service team, who were entitled to the increase along with other staff, declined this pay increase.
The Local Government Association has been telling the unions for years that the nationally-agreed terms and conditions are outdated and is supportive of councils which want to step away from those old agreements.
Observer asks if the changes to terms and conditions apply also to councillors’ allowances. The answer is no, because councils are volunteers, democratically elected. They are not employees, it is not their job.
They put many hours in and the allowance system has been designed nationally to recompense councillors for at least some of the time they spend on council business, especially if they have to take time from work to do it. It is to enable people from all walks of life to be able to become councillors if they wish.
It seems contradictory that Observer should, on the one hand, be concerned for staff facing ‘cuts’ and then suggest that they should pay for parking when they are at work. They are not allowed to use their parking permits at other times.
Councillors, similarly, can only use their parking permits when on council business. If they were to have to pay to park when on council business they could claim the cost back under the allowance system. So nothing would be gained by taking away what Observer clearly believes to be some sort of perk.
Observer is among the first to call for more transparency from the council. Scrapping the Boston Bulletin, which would not save any money, would remove from residents daily access to information from and about the council.
He says that it is no good to anyone who doesn’t have a computer to read it on. If he ever comes into Municipal Buildings – access is free, there’s no charge – he will see a hard copy of the Bulletin posted daily for all to read.
Perhaps the editor might have something to say about the merits of The Standard’s own computer-based website, Facebook and Twitter accounts. Whether Observer likes it or not this is the 21st century and computer and internet access to information is here to stay.
Once again I invite Observer to check his facts before going into print and save himself embarrassment.
Coun Peter Bedford
Leader of Boston Borough Council