LETTER: District / County wage discrepancy

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As reported in the WSCT last week, a motion for West Sussex County Council to take steps to become a ‘Living Wage employer’ failed at the full council meeting on 11th April. Councillor Philip Circus (also HDC chairman), again showed his ‘feudal’ approach to such matters by describing the Living Wage as ‘fundamentally wrong’ and that it would ‘reduce employment’ and ‘impoverish people’.

Apparently, if the living wage minimum of £7.65 per hour had been approved for direct WSCC employees, then the increase in the total wage bill would have been around 0.1 per cent.

Contrast this with county councillors’ recent enthusiasm to vote themselves ten times this percentage increase on their own ‘pay’; not to mention 100 times that increase on their mileage allowance!

But even more odd is how Horsham District Council commendably managed to take this living wage step, approved just a month before at their Personnel Committee meeting on 12th March.

Self-evidently (and fortunately) Cllr Circus wasn’t at that HDC meeting, but Cllr Liz Kitchen was. Yet, at the WSCC meeting, they both voted against, along with another WSCC/HDC councillor, Jim Rae.

How can this District/County inconsistency be explained? It cannot be a Conservative ‘whip’ as we have now been ‘told’ that they don’t exist at County Hall.

Surely it couldn’t be that the motion was proposed by a Labour councillor, could it? Party politics getting in the way of proper analysis of the real facts; I really can’t believe that, can you? There is absolutely no precedent!

Remarkably this theory was ‘supported’ by Cllr David Barling (Con) who said that if the motion had been ‘put in a different way and in different terms’ his abstention (along with other abstaining Conservatives) could well have become a vote in favour.

So that explains it all. The proposer of the living wage motion should have simply pleaded, ‘please sir, may I humbly beg that the budgets be adjusted so that our hard-working staff on minimum wage may have just a little more pay, so that they can continue to afford to live in West Sussex’?

Now that’s the way to show ‘due respect’ to the ruling party and would surely have done the trick!

For the record, not one of the 46 Conservative councillors (from an overall councillor total of 71) voted for WSCC to become a ‘Living Wage employer’!

Finally, Cllr Circus asserted that were such a step to be taken then it would be ‘socialism by the back door’.

I am not so sure about that; but I do think that his recent project to spend £3,510 of council tax payer money on ‘commemorative badges’ for ex-HDC chairmen could certainly be considered as ‘cronyism by the front door’!


Cox Green, Rudgwick