Cambs Councillor Wants Time Out For Tour De France

office_workers07:38 Tuesday 10th December 2013
BBC Radio Cambridgeshire

[P]AUL STAINTON: A Cambridgeshire councillor says the County Council should let its staff leave the office to watch the Tour de France next year. The race will pass through Cambridgeshire on 7th July next summer, and it’s a Monday. Fancy a long weekend? So should the people of Cambridgeshire be allowed those few extra hours off work? Well Cllr Ian Manning will make the suggestion at a Council meeting tomorrow. Morning Ian.
IAN MANNING: Good morning Paul.
PAUL STAINTON: Now why do you think this might be a good idea then?

IAN MANNING: Well I think it’s about two things. One is about providing the Council providing a civic leadership role. This is a fantastic thing for Cambridgeshire. It’s a one-off. It’s never going to happen again in our lifetimes. So it’s about the Council saying we think it’s a good thing to make as many people go to this, and many people enjoy this fantastic event as possible. And also it’s about if you work in local government at the moment, you’ve probably been through one, two even three rounds of restructuring and possible redundancies. So it’s about the Council giving a pretty small, but a little bit of a thing back to its hard working staff, where it’s practical, and where the Council can do it. We’re not talking about sending people on gardening leave to go and see the Tour de France. We’re just talking about a little bit extra flexibility for a couple of hours, to allow them to help make this event a success.
PAUL STAINTON: Do you think all companies should follow suit if they can?
IAN MANNING: Where they can. We’re certainly not suggesting turning round to Cambridgeshire businesses and saying you must give your staff time off. Plenty of staff are not necessarily going to want to go and see this. But it’s about the Council just being a bit of a civic leader and saying, this is how .. We want people to go to this event. We want people to experience the joy and the excitement of the Tour de France, and please do all you can to allow your staff to go to it.
PAUL STAINTON: Where do you draw the line though? Giving people days off. You give them a day off for the Tour de France, they’ll want a day off next year for World Sausage Day.
IAN MANNING: We’re definitely not talking about days off. We’re talking about one or two hours. I don’t think World Sausage Day is quite up there with the Tour de France.
PAUL STAINTON: You know what I mean though.
IAN MANNING: No, I know. I think it’s quite clear that the Tour de France is a once in a lifetime event. It’s like the Olympics. It’s not a thing that’s going to come round every single year. It’s clearly a one-off thing, and it’s clearly something that we really want to make a success. It also recognises the really brilliant team working that’s gone on between the City Council and the County Council, securing this event for Cambridge. So I don’t think .. a couple of hours, I don’t think that’s very much to ask. I know what you’re talking about with the concerns, but this is just about giving people a bit of extra flexibility. They can make the hours up later. And just saying to staff, go out there and enjoy it.
PAUL STAINTON: Your motion you’re putting before the Council tomorrow says the authority should do this, and publicly encourage Cambridgeshire businesses to do the same. There’s an economic impact there, isn’t there, if everybody has a long weekend.
IAN MANNING: We’re not talking about a long weekend. We’re talking about a couple of hours. There may be an economic impact, but also there’s an economic impact in making this event a massive success. If this event is a success, then it’s going to bring in business to Cambridge and Cambridgeshire. So I know where you’re going with it, but I think really we’re talking about a couple of hours, and just giving staff the opportunity to experience this event, and giving businesses the lead to say, the Council’s going to do it, please if you can, if it’s practical .. you can’t have social workers taking time off for obvious reasons, and other professions like ..
IAN MANNING: (LAUGHS) What I’m trying to do is be practical Paul, so I think it’s not a huge amount to ask to just give a little bit of flexibility to people to say go there, enjoy this event, and celebrate this brilliant thing we’ve got for Cambridge.
PAUL STAINTON: Yes. I suppose there’d be nothing worse than having empty streets when the cyclists (go through).
IAN MANNING: It would look a little bit embarrassing. Yes.
PAUL STAINTON: So, much support for this? Are the councillors behind you?
IAN MANNING: Well we’ll see tomorrow, won’t we?
PAUL STAINTON: You’ve not gauged opinion?
IAN MANNING: I’ve talked to people independently, and I hope they’ll ..
PAUL STAINTON: You must have Martin Curtis on speed-dial surely.
IAN MANNING: Yes. Well I’m not quite sure I’d want Martin’s .. Martin is a nice chap but I’m not sure I’d want him on speed-dial. I’m hoping that we don’t fall down ideological lines on this, and we can all just .. it’s getting near Christmas. I hope we can just have a bit of spirit of reconciliation in the Council Chamber, and people can not take ideological positions, and just put a really strong message out there that we want to support this event and make it a success.
PAUL STAINTON: Ian Manning. Cllr Ian Manning, represents East Chesterton on Cambridgeshire County Council.