Nick Clarke: In Defence of a Large Pay Rise

17:11 Wednesday 19th October 2011
Drive BBC Radio Cambridgeshire

ANDY BURROWS: A 25% pay rise given to councillors at Cambridgeshire County Council has today been defended by the authority’s Leader. Some of the comments BBC Cambridgeshire received were highly critical, asking how councillors can accept the increase when people are losing their jobs, and dealing with huge cuts in budgets. Well Council Leader Nick Clarke spoke on the Breakfast Show with Liz Rhodes, and he says he knows the timing isn’t great. (TAPE)
NICK CLARKE: I totally accept that, but the problem is we are mandated every four years to have an independent review, and it’s been five years since we did the last one. There is no good time to do this, and will we be out of recession completely in four years time when the next one comes round? I have no idea, but I suspect not. Since May I have very carelessly lost two Cabinet Members, all related to their quality of life, and juggling their work-life home-life balance. And that really can’t be right. (LIVE)
ANDY BURROWS: But should the position of councillor be a paid one? Well many people told us today that people should run for Council because they want to make a difference, not because they want the cash. Councillor Clarke said that the authority can’t justify relying purely on the goodwill of those who run for office, (TAPE)
NICK CLARKE: This is not just a nine ’till five job. There’s two and a half days a week most backbench members work, but that’s in the evenings as well. And of course it is about volunteering. But people still have to live. There seems to be a detachment here, that County Councillors in some ways aren’t members of society and communities. They have to live. They have families, and we want to attract more, and a more diverse range of county councillors in. (LIVE)
ANDY BURROWS: Nick Clarke said that he wants to attract real people to the authority, who can make the right decisions, and he wants his Cabinet Members in particular to put in some long hours. (TAPE)
NICK CLARKE: I’m sort of pressing hard that they do that. We have some big issues ahead of us, and they need to do that. Anybody can have a look at my blog to see the sort of hours that I work. And this is not about me or personalising it. But I’m typically for example yesterday in the office at seven thirty. I’m here this morning. I’ll be there ’till six tonight. That’s just the way it is. Some people would say, well you’re doing too much. That’s an executive job. Well it’s a huge organisation. And it’s getting more complex by the day. Government is putting more and more work our way, so we’ve got the public health agenda, the health and wellbeing board which I chair, all these things add up . You can’t do this as a part-time job any more. (LIVE)
ANDY BURROWS: That was the Leader of Cambridgeshire County Council Nick Clarke, speaking earlier on to our Cambridgeshire Breakfast Show. It was presented by Liz Rhodes.