Friday, February 10, 2017

Conservative councillor in "Donald Trump-style rant" says "I'm not giving my pay rise back"

Note to local councillors: do not get on the wrong side of the local paper.

Here is the Surrey Comet:
Councillor David Barnard, who received a basic allowance of £4,500, along with a ‘Special Responsibility Allowance’ of £7,875, as well as claiming ‘Travel and Subsistence’ expenses of a further £1,426.65 for the tax year 2015/16 derisively slammed public opinion tonight calling for him and fellow Conservative councillors to return the money in Letchworth. 
In an astonishingly angry diatribe Mr Barnard, who represents the ward of Hitchwood, Offa and Hoo, shouted loudly, pointed aggressively and threateningly during his rant – stunning those assembled to debate North Herts District Council’s 2017/18 budget at a public meeting held at the town’s historic Spirella building. 
A visibly distressed Mr Barnard thundered defiantly: “I will not be giving my pay rise back.” 
Referring to previous Comet stories about the contentious pay rises of between 11 and 19 per cent which Conservative councillors voted themselves, Mr Barnard shouted aggressively about ‘the local rag’ angrily pointing his finger at the media desk in an apparent loss of control.
Featured on Liberal Democrat VoiceBlimey.

The only good thing to come out of this sorry affair is that Hitchwood, Offa and Hoo is our Ward of the Week.


Anonymous said...

I've no time for this man, but too manyLib Dems are forgetting why councillors are given allowances in the first place. I was a councillor for 23 years and I always claimed what I was due, because
1. I spent as many hours being a councillor as doing my full time job.
2. I didn't see why I should be out of pocket for being a councillor, so I claimed travel and where appropriate subsistence.
3. I couldn't afford to give up all that time out of my own resources.
4. I don't believe that above parish/town level it is possible to do the job pro bono. When I was on a small borough council pre 1974 it was possible to do the job in evenings and out of work time.
5. Because I was a councillor, I missed opportunities for promotion time and time again and the allowances were at least part recompense.

I think it is very dangerous and counter productive to talk up these issues because without allowances many low paid or even medium paid people simply can't afford to even consider standing for the council.

What is wrong however is for councillors to be the people deciding the appropriate allowances. When I was first a district councillor post 1976, the rate was set by the Department responsible for local government. I think we should go back to that system.

There may be a few councils that have set excessive rates of allowances for councillors, but that's not for me to judge, nor I suggest for those who make this a campaigning point. What we should be doing is accepting councillors need to be paid and arguing for a national system of allowances.

Jonathan Calder said...

I didn't post this because I am outraged at Barnard's claims: I posted it because I found the language of the report, like the name of his ward, amusing.

I was a district councillor towards the end of the pro-bono period and I rather mourn its passing.

We received allowances but did not expect to make a living from being a councillor. That seems to me about right.

Unknown said...

As a resident of Hitchwood, Offa & Hoo, there is rather more to this story, you see the NHDC Tories voted a rise of 11% - this would cost around £30,000 per year, the vote took place a week after the same NHDC Tories had announced they were closing 14 local children's playgrounds in order to save, £30,000 per year.

It was published in the Hitchin Comet, Hitchin is in Herts, overlooked by Hitchwood, and the village of St Ippolyts which happens to be the most mis-spelled place in England, and is one of those rare places where there is no agreement on the correct spelling (not even the road signs agree).

Jonathan Calder said...

Thanks for the extra information, Unknown.