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Why I am Prepared to Waive my Allowances 

In the run up to the May elections I said that I was prepared to waive any allowance due to me if elected as a Cheshire East councillor to serve my community for three reasons:  

1)      I want to improve the public view of politicians. The reputation of UK politicians has suffered greatly in the past few years due to expenses scandals. When I worked as a volunteer in Kenya , I saw the damage that is done to society when good people stay out of politics. I want to do my bit to restore public respect for politicians and so encourage more good people to get involved.

2)      The allowance is too high. The basic allowance is 11,200, which is more than some people earn for a full time job.

3)      I want to improve our parks and the facilities for children. Over the last four years as a town councillor I have put a lot of time and effort into getting improvements for Sandbach Town Park . I am motivated by getting things done for the people in Sandbach. That is why my offer to waive my allowance is conditional on agreement that the extra money will be used for additional improvements to Sandbach parks and playgrounds.

Cheshire East Council have now reported that they will not accept my offer and cited political reasons for the rejection.

I have a dilemma. If I waive my allowance then the Tories on Cheshire East could simply use the money to pay extra bonuses. On the other hand if I take the money myself then I could be accused of breaking an election pledge. I have therefore decided to take my allowance but give the money away to local community groups and projects. Sadly the rejection by Cheshire East means that the amount of money available is reduced due to tax, National Insurance and pensions. However, it does mean that there is more freedom over how the money is spent.

 In spite of the rejection of my offer to waive my allowances, I am pleased to note that the three reasons I gave above have all been achieved to some extent:

1)      several people have commented to me that they are pleased to see a politician giving to the community. Sadly, they often go on to say that there are too many politicians who are self-serving and put party and personality before the good of their community. Unfortunately this is true, but it should not detract from the many good people involved in local politics.

2)      The allowance has been frozen for 2012/13. I would have liked to see it cut.

3)      The other political parties have woken up to the importance of parks and playgrounds for the community. I do not mind people jumping on this bandwagon. If it means more playgrounds and better parks in Sandbach, then I am pleased whoever muscles in on the photo opportunity.

 

Finally, I recognise that some people have given up jobs in order to be councillors and not only do they need the allowances to support themselves, but they also work hard and earn their allowances. I do not want my personal decision to give away my allowances to be seen as a criticism of those hardworking councillors.

 

So far I have paid 

2,500 to St Mary's Church Paid September 2011

St Mary's Church is an important part of the life of the Sandbach community. I am happy to support the Christian community of St Mary's and also support the repair of the St Mary's Church.

2,500 to Congleton Constituency Labour Party Paid December 2011

Congleton Constituency Labour Party paid my election expenses and also the expenses of the unsuccessful local candidates. The local Labour Party also pays for leaflets that spread information about the work being done in Sandbach. Local political parties are important in building communities and restoring public faith in politics.

2,900 to Cardinal Hume Centre Paid January 2012

The Centre supports homeless young people and badly housed families.

3 x 50 to Poems in the Waiting Room 

What do you do while waiting to see the doctor? Poems in the Waiting Room provides poems to be read in the waiting room. This is a small donation for a charity doing something simple, cheap and worthwhile

 

4,425 to Cardinal Hume Centre Paid November 2012

    The Centre supports homeless young people and badly housed families.

Well done to the Young Labour members who slept rough in Crewe to raise money for Shelter http://www.facebook.com/events/127957510691672/ 

 

2,700 to CAFOD Paid November 2012

    CAFOD is an international aid agency

270 Wesley Avenue Methodists - Messy Church March 2013

100 to St Luke's Hospice paid December 2013

5,500 paid to FCC Recycling (UK) Ltd as match funding for a 50,000 grant towards Mortimer Drive Play Area

2,500 to CAFOD paid July 2014 for their Hands On Kitui campaign - I worked in the Kitui district of Kenya from 1994-96

100 to Wikipedia December 2014

40 Wesley Avenue Methodists - Messy Church December 2014

250 paid to the Cheshire East Mayor's Charity Macmillan Cancer Support 17 December 2014

2,500 paid to the St Patrick's Missionary Society January 2015

5,000 paid to Mary's Meals www.marysmeals.org

 

Ultimately I wish to see another new playground in Sandbach (probably Church Lane), but this takes time to organise. In the meantime I have deposited 10,000 with the Cheshire Neighbours Credit Union http://www.cncu.org.uk/

 

    

 

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