COLUMN: Westwell of Ely says ‘Mayor James Palmer seems to be behaving as if he has won the lottery’

Ely Standard columnist Rosemary Westwell,

Ely Standard columnist Rosemary Westwell, - Credit: Archant

Some people have too much money than is good for them. So many famous people fall by the wayside because they cannot cope with the excessive payments they receive.

Councillor James Palmer

Councillor James Palmer - Credit: Archant

Often poor people who have won the lottery start off with millions but because they cannot handle their success, end up as poor as when they started.

Our new mayor, James Palmer, seems to be behaving as if he too has won the lottery and like a little boy left loose in a toy shop proposes to splurge out on lots of ‘toys’ for himself in his new job.

In April this year, he promised before he was elected, a ‘lean, mean and trim authority’. I understand this to mean that he is all in favour of cutting out waste, including getting rid of unnecessary jobs or jobs that are duplicated.

I also interpret this to mean that he promised to cut costs to the bone and I trust that what he meant by ‘mean’ was not selfish, but an efficient council, doing the job in hand without any fuss or bother, cutting out any unnecessary bureaucracy.

This sounded very good and no doubt there were many who voted him in because of it, although, personally, I would have much rather he had promised to put his citizens first.

Now we find that he is being held up by the scrutiny committee for suddenly going over the original budget by wanting to pay a lot more than expected to others for doing his job. What DOES he think he is doing? We all have to scrimp and save to live within our means, so why not him?

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Common sense says that we already have people working in the separate councils who are doing the work that he proposes to continue. Why not use them? There is no need for NEWLY created jobs. In fact, if the authorities MUST be combined, then you would only need one person fulfilling each role, so he should be able to cut the budget, not increase it.

A glance at the accounts for our current councils, all I assume affected by our new mayor overseeing them, shows them bandying around hundreds of thousands of pounds on the costs of running their departments. If they are spending that much on executive pay and unfathomable jobs such as ‘Corporate Director’, ‘Director of Governance’, or ‘Performance and information’, we cannot afford to splash out more.

Some businesses have actually sacked their managers and appointed people who know what they are doing to just get on with the job..

Let us hope common sense prevails at the Overview and Scrutiny Committee’s meeting on Wednesday August 16th at East Cambridgeshire District Council.