Rise in councillors' allowances should be performance related

A LOT of noise in the Journal last week about the allowance rise awarded to Wiltshire Council Cabinet members.

A 22 per cent pay rise sounds a lot, but it isn’t out of line with pay rises for high performing senior managers working in the private sector.

That may be so, but there is one big difference: the word ‘performance’.

In industry, increases are almost always linked to performance and subject to senior management, if not board of directors’, review and approval.

In the public sector pay is set by anonymous ‘review committees’ and seems to have nothing tangible to do with an individual’s performance in the past year.

So, how can there be a link between public sector pay increases for very senior managers (Council Cabinet Members, MPs etc) and performance?

I suggest that in the absence of any other body the local constituency party be responsible: they have the power to select and de-select candidates at parliamentary level, so why not for county councillors?

That way the implementation of the up to 22 per cent rise for the Wiltshire Cabinet would depend on how well the parties felt their councillors had done their job.

If they felt any councillor or MP had acted in a way that was damaging to the party they could withhold some or all of the rise and even, in extreme situations, withdraw party support.

Such engagement might also encourage more involvement between voters and parties, other than at elections.

PETER J JENKS, Alderbury

YOUR front page (Journal, December 5) requires comment.

Firstly, I entirely sympathise with the Mayor of Tidworth’s decision (to resign from the Conservative party).

From a practical, strategic political point of view, a £15k increase in allowances for the senior person of our unitary authority, plus 22 per cent for other Cabinet members does not blend with the Coalition Government’s practice of austerity and ‘we are all in it together’.

Let us not pretend politics does not come into local government – it does. This will lose thousands of votes for Coalition members.

From a more important moral view, we are informed allowances are allocated to posts not councillors. Does this then give a positive aspect? At least voters should be informed of what audited allowances are used for and why.

Another point is that in Salisbury we have had big expenditure for a new market square but some of the city roads with their potholes are an absolute disgrace. What amount of money is being paid out to replace vehicles’ shock absorbers?

It may well be that too much responsibility has been given to local authorities, and our large number of MPs plus the House of Lords should take more responsibility.

To finish on a positive note – our Coalition Government has been strong enough to freeze council tax – long may it remain.

BASIL DAVIE, Netheravon

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