Praise for a man true to principles
Comment on Councillor is happy to give his allowance cash to charity from page 5
DISTRICT councillor Huw Merriman should be applauded for donating his annual allowance – more than £7,500 – to his community.
He exemplifies the ideal that our elected representatives are not doing a job, they volunteer to serve their voters. Allowances are intended as compensation for the time, effort and expense involved in acting as a councillor.
Mobile phone calls, printing and postage, travelling to meetings – all these things cost money and it would be unreasonable to expect most people to put themselves forward for election and expect nothing in return.
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In Mr Merriman's case, however, he acknowledges that as a full-time working lawyer, living in an affluent part of the South-East, he is in a position where he does not need to draw on the public purse for extra help.
He works hard for the villagers of Rotherfield, requiring no extra help.
We should not think any less of those councillors who have to draw on their allowance to pay their expenses and many of them already donate to charities privately. But the comments of some of Mr Merriman's fellow Tories suggest they still view their position as a job for which they should be paid a proper wage – it is not.
Councillor Brian Redman, who serves Mayfield, said: "The amount we get paid as district councillors is a very small amount in relation to the amount of work we do."
Buxted and Maresfield's representative Norman Buck dubbed his renumeration a "pittance".
It is important to attract potential councillors from all backgrounds, but the MPs' expenses scandal showed what can happen when greedy people enter politics.
Well done to Mr Merriman for staying true to the principles of democratic service.