LETTERS From Ursula Hollis, Cowes:
YOU have recently chosen to feature the subject of councillors’ allowances.
To some readers this may have brought confusion with the Daily Telegraph’s long-running campaign to expose those MPs who have flouted the rules over their expenses.
There can be no danger of such activity at local government level. All council allowances are fixed by an independent body.
Those earning more than the basic rate of £7,903 (which is subject to tax and National Insurance) have taken on the chairmanship of a committee, the huge task of being a cabinet member or to be leader of the council, an enormous and important role in the administration of the Island.
Those who write letters complaining about councillors’ allowances cannot possibly understand the amount of work and time required.
The work required of a successful councillor is exacting. It starts early in the day and often finishes late in the evening.
Considering the skill and experience many councillors bring to our local government and their dedication to working for the Island, many believe they are underpaid.
May I suggest your paper should start a campaign of gratitude to those who serve us with such dedication rather than to frequently criticise the work that councillors do and now for receiving their minimal allowances.
Editor’s footnote: Ursula Hollis is the wife of IW Council planning committee chairman, Cllr Richard Hollis.
From J. Gibbons, Ryde:
Re-distribute money: Regarding town and parish budgets for 2013/14, it’s that time again, when the town and parish councillors ask their constituents what they would like money to be spent on — a subject in which we all have a close interest.
It would be very easy to do this by distributing it to the special interest groups, which come to the councillors’ attention, and indeed this is the method used generally by political parties on the grounds those who benefit will bear it in mind when voting and those who pay will hardly notice — what the Americans call 'pork-barrel politics’.
But it’s not the only way. The unbiased and non-discriminatory approach would seem to me to be to distribute it among the Ryde council taxpayers, ideally in proportion to the council tax they pay, which should not be too difficult to do. I can think of a way and so, no doubt, can you. Perhaps we should adopt this open-minded and even-handed way of doing things?