Harry Potter’s ‘Dementors’ have nothing on the soul sucking arguments of those seeking to expand the ‘gravy train.’ The latest example concerns councillors who have spoken out for more diversity in Local Government, this in response to a Welsh Assembly enquiry—this same Assembly who are seeking to increase their own number ‘to do a better job for Wales.’ Of course.
It’s reassuring to know that Monmouthshire County Council takes such things seriously. It even has its own ‘Democratic Services Committee’ that echoes this new need for greater diversity. So far all well and good, Mom and Apple Pie stuff, though you already know it’s leading to something less wholesome.
But first the strains of plaintive violins. Councillors went on to speak of the difficulties in balancing a career with being a councillor, as though free choice had nothing to do with it. They spoke of the need to attract more young people, and in the first hint of their true agenda, offer the first glimpse of a coy ankle—remuneration is key to encouraging diversity. “ I think on the basis of where we are currently at we have to accept we won’t do that with the remunerations where they currently are.” A rough translation, there’s not enough in the trough.
The violins get louder. It’s not just remuneration. Employers need to be more understanding and appreciate the valuable work that councillors do. “I’ve recently had two conversations with women of my sort of age, with families and jobs, and one said there was no way I could ever stand as a councillor as my employer would never let me have the time off,” one councillor said.
Why should they? Not only would they be granting her paid leave, they’d also be subsidising her councillor’s ‘allowance’ of approx £15K (£22K if they chair a committee) through their rates.
In response to the inquiry and with no sign of irony, the council observed that a further barrier is ‘the image and the general distrust of politicians in general.’
And who would have guessed that the Council’s response would be shared with the Welsh Assembly’s Equality, Local Government and Communities committee, or that there was a need for such a job.