Observer: Wrong time for councillors to vote for increased allowances

Observer, our independent Saturday columnist, ponders library closures set against councillors’ allowances.


Two facts, this week, for us all to think about.

Fact One: East Sussex County Council has asked its libraries service to save around £2m.

A consultation is under way.

Seventeen libraries will be retained, including Uckfield, which suffered a cutbacks in the number of hours it opens around a year ago.

However, it is proposed that seven libraries will close.

Call me old fashioned, if you will, but even in this era of the internet, a public library plays a vital role in the community and the promotion of the services provided would see greater use.

Fact Two: The county council has agreed to increase members’ allowances with the leader getting a big rise.

I am not against councillors receiving allowances. I have always argued that people should be not out-of-pocket.

One of the points being made is that the money will help attract a wider range of people from social backgrounds to stand for election.

Councillors in favour of the increases can also point to the fact that the rises were recommended by an independent panel.

However, some of the amounts being paid would be grabbed with both hands by many, many working people.

Councillors are carrying out a public service, whether it is county, district or town.

We thank them for that, but it is voluntary and is something they do for the good of the community or to promote the aims of the political party they represent.

Getting more than £30,000, as the leader will, is plain wrong in my book.

I will note here that not all councillors claim their allowances and that it is a matter of personal choice  whether they do or not.

Here are some links for you to see who got what in 2016/17:

East Sussex County Council The document you are looking for is a Pdf: to find it, click on the link and then open the relevant page from the list.

Wealden District Council The document you are looking for is a Pdf: to find it, click on the link and then open the relevant page from the list.

Uckfield Town Council This is also is a Pdf; Click on the link, scroll down past the ‘asset management register’ to find the heading Town Councillors. Then click on where it says Members’ Allowances.

*Those not listed in these documents did not claim.

Of course, if allowances were nil, it might still mean libraries would have to close but in times of austerity a rise like this sends out a poor message.

Wide roads

Thanks to readers for solving the mystery of why the Maresfield and East Hoathly by-passes are so wide but single carriageway.

The answer was something I suspected (a change in national policy) but am now left wondering why they were left when most other three-lane roads in other parts of England were narrowed.

Loved the comment from one reader who said the the lanes were dubbed: nearside, offside and suicide.

That backs up the advice I was given years ago by a traffic policeman about never being the “jam in the sandwich’; in other words don’t overtake if another car is approaching.

See also:

Vacher Gardens needs grounds and garden maintenance staff

Objections to showroom conversion to flats

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