On the 18th of July 2017 my Cambridgeshire County Councillor, Elisa Meschini (Labour?, King’s Hedges) spoke against proposals to increase the amount of public money councillors personally take home saying:
I can’t see what this amendment will achieve other than the fact it will give us enormous amounts of cash that I frankly do not think we deserve.
Despite Meschini’s speech against the plans the majority of councillors did hike their allowances and councillors have offered Meschini the newly created role of “Area Champion” for Cambridge, which comes with the offer of a £5,000/year bonus allowance on top of the already very generous £10,315/year “basic allowance”. Over a four year term that’s £41,260 in basic allowances plus the bonus £20,000 taking the total to £61,260.
Given Meschini has said councillors don’t deserve enormous amounts of cash to take home I intend to use the public speaking agenda item at the 14th September, 2017 North Area Committee to ask something along the lines of:
I live in King’s Hedges ward and Cllr Meschini is my County Councillor. When councillors, on the 18th of July, debated trousering more public money personally Meschini spoke against the proposal l saying the plans would give councillors enormous amounts of money they don’t deserve.
Perhaps in response to that county councillors have now offered Meschini the role of “Area Champion” for Cambridge; the role comes with a hefty bonus allowance which put Meschini on track to pocket £61,260 over a four year term of office.
Will Meschini be accepting the role and taking the bonus cash? What does Meschini intend to do in the new role; can we expect for example attendance at all Cambridge’s area committees to take on matters raised and pursue them at Shire Hall. How will the North Area Committee adapt to work with Meschini’s new role?
Perhaps if the new role is a kind of Deputy leader of the County Council for Cambridge – acknowledging the interests of the city are often different to that of the surrounding county, and perhaps acknowledging that people in Cambridge rarely elect a Conservative but the Conservatives are in-power in the County Council, with responsibility for the city’s roads, schools, social care and more, it could be useful.
Overall though the role description just looks to me like all the things one would expect a local councillor to be doing anyway:
According to a County Council paper the role is expected to involve the following:
- Gain a deep understanding at a District/ City level through discussion with officers and local members where appropriate, of key issues which impact on demand for County Council services
- Focussing on relevant issues for the District/ City, report back to Committee and the
Communities Network on areas of strength and areas for improvement which would
strengthen impact on outcomes.
Provide challenge to the Committee, the Council, and partner organisations on whether we
are doing everything possible to address the issue within available resources
- Demonstrate leadership by engaging with communities and other elected representatives
for relevant Divisions as needed across the District/City so people’s voices are heard and
self-sustaining communities are encouraged
- Work with partners, stakeholders, community groups and representatives to develop
relevant actions and creative responses to identified need
- Be an ambassador for community based provision across the District/City;
- Share good practice in strengthening communities across and between Districts/City, county wide and where appropriate nationally;
- Ensure new ways of working and new models of service delivery are shaped by and where
appropriate commissioned from community groups and organisations
I would also be interested in hearing from other councillors why they have chosen Meschini for the role and associated hand-out.