So I can raise the dead, it seems.
After three and a bit years, I have raised Brian Ayling’s blog from it’s dusty resting place. And all it took was to tell the truth about his behaviour on councillor allowances.
Unfortunately, it is only to demonstrate his poor grasp of both reality and numeracy. Still, I’m always keen to help. Let’s teach Cllr Ayling to count, shall we?
Okay, so what exactly is Cllr Ayling saying?
“As usual with Labour, the words and the hypothesis are manipulated to create the false and seemingly fraudulent claims of “caring” Socialists. They state that I earn £1,000 for each Committee I sit upon as Chair of the Appeals Committee A. The allowance for 2012 was £4,201 which amounts to a monthly payment of £361.37.“
False? Fraudulent? Not quite, Brian.
You see, he may well receive his allowances monthly, but they are calculated on an annual basis. And on that annual basis he is correct, he received £4,201. In that period, the Appeals Committee A met four times. If I divide £4,201 by four meetings, I get £1,050.25. Which, to be fair, I rounded down to £1,000.
“The Labour personnel criticising me do not mention the £5,041 that the Labour Chair of Licensing receives or the other allowances that other Labour Councillors receive.“
Well, I did mention Labour councillors’ allowances. I mentioned that Cllrs Kevin Robinson and Margaret Borton, as chair of the Standards Committee and vice-chair of Appeals Committee A, both had their allowances cut. Except, unlike Cllr Ayling, the Labour members of the council welcomed and embraced those cuts, given that the number of meetings of those committees were way down.
The fact is that the report from the Independent Panel explained all of this. At the debate, Cllr Ayling claimed not to understand why his allowance was being cut, but had he read the report it would have been clear as day. Of course, he could have just been using ignorance as a cover for greed…
“My basic allowance for the past few years was £8,402 plus the allowance for the Chair of Appeals Committee A… Out of this I pay for my mobile phone, my own Internet and the power to run the Council provided lap top and all car, mileage, insurance expenses involved in my driving around the St. Luke’s Ward… I work, probably 35 hours a week but it seems like 80 hours and at 35 hours, I receive £6.70 an hour and all my expenses come out of that so I get probably £3.35 an hour!“
Okay, the fatal mistake here is this: Cllr Ayling’s allowances, like the allowances of all councillors, are not a wage. The clue’s in the name. It’s an allowance, meant to cover exactly the expenses that he lists. Does he think the council should pay for his car? For his internet? For his electricity? That’s what the £8,402 is for.
If he thinks its not enough, then fine, but I suggest that is an argument he should put to his bosses: the voters of St Luke’s ward.
“I will not resort to trying to establish any justification in what I do but I will condemn the Socialists who attempt to criticise me when they fail to refuse their allowances which they could do.“
Nobody has suggested Cllr Ayling should refuse his allowances. It’s true that councillors can refuse them, but I would actually argue against this.
When he was elected as the first President of the US, the independently-wealthy George Washington wanted to refuse the salary attached to the role. He was dissuaded from this, as it would set a precedent which his successors would be obliged to follow. So thereafter Washington, only those independently wealthy themselves would ever be able to aspire to the top role. For this reason, I think that all councillors should take the allowances due to them, for the time and expenses which the role incurs.
The difference here is that an independent panel, for good reason, recommended that specific allowances be cut in line with the reduced time that the roles took up. The same report recommended an increase in cabinet members’ allowances, which was rejected and rightly so. These are difficult times, and the Council cannot be seen to be looking after itself whilst residents suffer cuts.
Political differences aside, I am dismayed that Cllr Ayling has failed to understand this.
“All will come to fruition soon and we will see those that fail to honour their own words and who can only attempt to criticise others, left by the wayside as their supporters realise they speak with forked tongues.“
Aside from the fact that this sounds like some manner of Bible quote via Quentin Tarrantino, I‘m not going to be cowed by Brian Ayling. If he wants to argue with me, he can bring some facts to the argument. I have done exactly that. If the facts damn him, maybe he should stop blaming other people and take a look in the mirror.