Cllr Elisa Meschini Offered an Enormous Amount of Public Money to Take Home

Playing the video will take you to Meschini’s speech

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.

41 responses to “Cllr Elisa Meschini Offered an Enormous Amount of Public Money to Take Home”

  1. Cllr Meschini commented on the role and the offer of the associated cash at the North Area Committee on the 14th of September 2017:

    Cllr Meschini said:

    With the new committee comes this new job…

    Yes it does come with extra money and yes it does come with a little bit of a moral dilemma…

    I’m afraid I haven’t got a choice, I have to take the role and I have to take the money that comes with it.

    [Heckles from other councillors and the public disagreeing, one saying “it’s your choice”]

    Unfortunately. It’s not really relevant in terms of. I haven’t seen any of this money yet. I don’t know what the plan is for this money, but I plan to work in this role which I have and it is an opportunity to actually do something for the Cambridge residents and to actually be a champion for them against this administration which is going to effectively just cut public services and cut all these sort of things that are offered to people and this five thousand pounds that I’m going to get, if I had any way to put them back where they belong which is in the front line services budget then I would, unfortunately there is no real direct way for me to do that.

    So I plan to work in this role that I am taking on. The job description is a bit vague at the moment though we have got quite a lot of action points on the agenda already and I am quite happy to keep Richard informed as to how it progresses so please feel free to keep asking me.

    Cllr Ian Manning (Lib Dem) said:

    This area champion role … has a two page job description. Now when I read it pretty much every single thing on there was the job description of a councillor, talking about representing residents, speaking up for their views, spreading best practice….

    It is perfectly possible for Cllr Meschini to not take up the role, so I’m not going to accept someone saying: “I have to take the role”. You could actually not take the role, not take the money, and we could all go away and that money would go back into a pot, and if no one else came up for it, which given the rules of the committee, would mean no-one else could take it, because I can’t take it because of proportionality rules I’m not the same colour as the ruling group of the city council. That money would eventually go back into front-line services so I would invite her here and now to say that she just won’t take it.

    Meeting chair Cllr Bird (One of Meschini’s Labour party colleagues) ruled: “I don’t think we can get into that, it’s a bit of a political side of it, we’re non-political here so”.

    Cllr Kevin Price (Labour) said, to Cllr Manning: “If you were running the city council you would have jumped at it”.

  2. The Conservatives at Cambridgeshire County Council have specifically urged those arguing against councillors trousering more public money personally not to do it themselves.

    Cllr Count, the leader of the council, addressed councillors on the 18th of July and said:

    You can give up any, or all, or part of your allowance should you so wish.
    And any of you who that have spoke so eloquently against this today I urge you to take advantage of that; those buses not going through your village, those children’s centres you are worried about, make up the difference in the increase you are objecting to.

    In four years time the public will be asking: “You spoke against it but did you actually take it? I think that will be a subject of conversation in four years time.”

  3. Interestingly I missed this comment:

    “Cllr Kevin Price (Labour) said, to Cllr Manning: “If you were running the city council you would have jumped at it”.”

    No, I wouldn’t. I actually don’t think COuncillors (particularly City Councillors) are paid anywhere near enough IF they do their jobs properly, but the point is the principle of massive pay rises for Cllrs when staff are capped at 1%.

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