Members of Parliament awarded an 11 per cent increases in their salaries are facing a “crisis of conscience” along with Wiltshire Council leaders who have voted themselves massive increases in their personal allowances.
Jeff Osborn, an Independent member of the Wiltshire unitary authority, has attacked them both for being out of touch and unaware that they may face a public revolt at forthcoming elections.
“All these politicians, national and local, need to look at their consciences,” he told Marlborough News Online. “There’s now a big disconnect between our leaders and the public at large and it is going to cause all sorts of problems.
“We are facing a crisis of confidence. People are losing faith in the whole democratic process.”
He urged Wiltshire residents to “express their dissatisfaction, their anger and frustration” by signing the petition calling for the resignation of Jane Scott, Tory leader of Wiltshire Council, and her Cabinet colleagues.
More than 2,000 people have already given their support to the petition, launched by businessman Paul Gaunt. “And the more signatures that can be achieved to demonstrate the strength of feeling out there the better,” declared Councillor Osborn.
“And they need to write to their MPs and tell them that a £11,000 rise in their pay can in no way be justified while people are suffering a freeze on their wages and, in some cases, having less in their pockets as a result of the austerity squeeze and the rise in inflation.
“That pay boost can’t be justified either now or in the next Parliament. People may well rebel at the ballot box next time round.”
Councillor Christopher Franklin, twice Mayor of Tidworth, has already announced he is not renewing his Conservative Party membership as a result of the 36 per cent rise Jane Scott has received in her council allowance, back-dated to May.
And Councillor Osborn believes this has resulted in a leadership crisis locally following the analysis of the situation that has been made by John Craig, the well respected former Chief Wiltshire Fire Officer.
“He clearly states that Jane Scott and her Cabinet have singularly failed to demonstrate leadership ability and skill by pushing through a massive increase in their allowances,” he pointed out.
“This follows on from massive increases in senior staff salaries while all this is set against a backdrop of hundreds of council staff redundancies and the austerity Wiltshire people are suffering.
“So much then for the Chancellor’s slogan ‘We are all in this together’.
“As Mr Craig informs us, real leadership demands leading by example. This is clearly where the Tory leadership has failed.”
Meanwhile he adds, Jane Scott refuses to discuss the matter with either the public or the media.
“Does she imagine by obdurately remaining silent that the problem will simply go away?” he asks, and declares: “Sadly this affair has all the makings of a powerful Greek tragedy.
“For it cannot be denied that the current administration has a range of achievements, particularly compared to neighbouring authorities. Yet these have now all been squandered by a moment of grabbing greed, followed by weeks of inept public relations advice. The damage of this to Wiltshire Council’s reputation is incalculable and possibly irretrievable.
“Splits are starting to appear in the wider Tory ranks and already a by-election is looming. What will Jane Scott do? Can she, even now, demonstrate leadership?”