A big thank you to all supporters who attended the protest rally outside County Hall, Beverley, last Monday. I’m sorry I wasn’t there. As some of you will be aware, I was unexpectedly admitted to hospital for the holiday weekend, and a big thank you goes to Matthew Elliott and Sara Rainwater for coming up from London and filling my shoes. A big thank you also goes to my better half, Becky, for making the placards that looked great on the television, and I’m sure they looked as great for those of you there in person.
It is fair to say I am not the most popular person in County Hall. Many councillors regard the TPA as a nuisance, preventing them for spending our money in any way they see fit. The leadership and cabinet have also become accustomed to making decisions in secret, and they are not used to proper scrutiny. Staring at the disinfectant of light, many of them are shielding their faces, hoping the light will once again turn to darkness so they can return to business as usual.
The leader of the council, Stephen Parnaby, has promised a review into discretionary payments. This is welcome news and we in the Hull & East Riding TPA will make sure no more discretionary payments are made in the future. If any member of staff wishes to take early retirement, I wish them well, but they have to realise the taxpayer is no longer prepared to top-up their pension pots.
We will also be keeping the pressure on the council to ensure senior officers never again receive large inflation busting pay rises and we will be campaigning for a reduction in pay too. If the leadership say it can’t be done, they only need to glance in the direction of Hull. Over the last few years, Hull City Council has reduced the number of managers and senior officers, resulting in a reduction in the salary bill and this year a freeze in council tax. It can be done and decisions can and should me made in a spirit of openness and transparency.
On a final note, all East Riding Conservative councillors received an e-mail from the secretary of the Tory group, Cllr Felicity Temple. She told them if they attended the rally it would be seen as an act of disloyalty to the leader and the group. Anyone attending would also lose any additional responsibilities they currently hold, such as the chairmanship of a scrutiny committee. As a result, none of the Conservative councillors who had planned to attend the rally turned up, with the exception of Cllr Gary Shores. Many of them were terrified they would be hauled in front of the standards board for simply voicing their opposition to the discretionary award. If you need any evidence that something needs to change in County Hall, then you have it in this e-mail from Cllr Temple.
I will be contacting supporters in Yorkshire this week and discussing with them the practical ways they can help us move forward. The East Riding of Yorkshire Council may want the TPA to go away. We are, of course, going nowhere.