There seems to be a great deal of confusion among some North Tyneside councillors regarding UKIP North Tyneside’s (UKIPNT) position on councillors voting in favour of a 24 per cent rise in their pay and allowances.
This has led to some unfair accusations being directed towards me as the parliamentary candidate for Tynemouth and local candidate for Monkseaton South at the time.
I understand the decision was based on the recommendation of an independent report into councillors’ pay and allowances compared to other regions. It was suggested that without a 24 per cent increase, the right calibre of candidates would not be attracted to stand in local elections.
I disagree. I have never noticed a shortage of good quality candidates. Notwithstanding this, the councillors did not have to accept the full award and I applaud those who refused it.
I would like to make it clear that UKIPNT has always been against this decision, believing this additional drain on the annual budget to have been inequitable and unjust at a time when council workers were facing the threat of redundancies and services were being cut.
I believe our elected councillors, regardless of political affiliation, should have set an example and refused it, or accepted a far lower rise, therefore showing sympathy towards hard hit families across the borough.
In our campaign literature last year, UKIPNT candidates consistently pledged that, if elected, its councillors would refuse this rise. However, if it proved too complex to administer then they would donate that amount as a minimum to local worthy causes. Had I been elected I would have donated half of all my income from the council to a worthy cause in the area, thus benefitting the residents I would serve.
UKIP has many successful and popular councillors across the country; they work hard and, not being required to follow the party Whip, always put residents first.
Yes, allowances should reflect the work put in, but money should never be the driver for seeking public office.
UKIP North Tyneside