The City Tory Group have been moving for months to get a debate on Councillors allowances and - in our view - cut them overall whilst rewarding those members who do take on extra workload. Anything which reduces the burden on taxpayers during this time of recession and cuts is vital for helping to restore public trust. I say - we are not in this for the money nor the glory (what glory?!?) so let's show this to the public.
So in the same way that I feel that Labour, the LibDems and Greens have blocked this debate at City Hall, now the Tories are doing the same at County Hall (click here for more) over the issue of allowances for Twin-hatters; those people who serve, and claim allowances, on 2 different councils. In Norwich this includes Labour's Bert Bremner and the Green Stephen Little. There are various Conservatives in the same position in the County too.
I understand the point about recieving the allowances for the work you do - double the work meaning double the allowances. In fact a LibDem Councillor wrote recently to the EDP to make this very point. However I also understand the anger that being a Councillor is the equivalent to a part-time job and that some people are building up massive allowance claims to live on because being a Councillor is their sole income. I understand some people believe that to be wrong and that Councillors need outside experience and aren't rounded people if politics is all they have. I also understand that people know that they are voting for a twin-hatter and do it with that knowledge. I also understand that having synergy between councils through twin-hatters can be a good thing. I understand that some people don't want taxpayers money to be used as an income for aspiring young politicans who just want the time to devote to a political career. It is - as you can tell - very complicated.
But the answer to these questions won't come from closing down debate. Let's talk about them, not as party animals, but as elected representatives looking to do the best for people. Shutting down debate looks shifty and as if we are happy with the status quo because some people do well out of it. And this isn't a party issue - don't believe those who tell you otherwise - because Councillors in all parties on at leats one council has voted not to talk about allowances.
The only way to address this perception and restore public trust is to have the debate; fully, honestly and in the open.
No matter which party you are in, refusing to talk about the issue won't make it go away. It just makes all politicans look that little bit more aloof than we did before.