LETTER: Opposition councillors were ridiculous over allowance rise

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Your letters, emails and opinions - Boston Standard, Lincolnshire: bostonstandard.co.uk, on Twitter @standardboston

I write to take exception with the ridiculous position of the Labour Party and other opposition groups on the borough council on the matter of cabinet and committee chair allowances, as expressed at the recent meeting of the full council, which I was privileged to observe as a member of the public.

In opposing the independently recommended increases on the narrow-minded and thoroughly populist grounds that ‘now is not the right time for councillors to be taking pay rises’, these councillors are utterly betraying every hard-working man and woman in regular employment who might ever seek to become a councillor.

Cabinet and committee chair positions all require attendance during the regular working week; it is simply not fair that these positions should be the preserve of the self-employed, the unemployed, and the retired on account that everyone else could not afford to take the time out of work, or alter their hours in order to participate as a senior councillor. Is the position of the Labour Party in Boston seriously to exclude the majority of their voters from ever aspiring to the upper echelons of the borough council before the age of 65?

The figures speak for themselves: South Holland District Council pays their Planning Committee Chairman £4830 pa; against £1621 for Boston. The proposed increase over two years (less inflation) will take this figure to only £1961. Very few employed individuals would count this as sufficient recompense for forgoing two days a week of their existing employment in order to serve the people of the borough.

On assuming the Presidency of the United States, George Washington initially refused his salary on account that the honour of office itself was a high enough reward; on reflection he reluctantly accepted on the grounds that men of humbler means would feel unable to aspire to office should the precedent be set that no pay is accepted.

It is the right of any citizen of this ancient borough to aspire to high office and public service; it is nothing short of a disgrace that opportunist opposition councillors would so happily deny them this in pursuit of a very poor and pious political point.

Tom Ashton