Just as with the MPs expenses scandal so with councillors allowances nothing does more to spread cynicism of politicians than evidence that they are in it for the money. An extraordinary story about Joe Anderson, the directly elected Labour Mayor of Liverpool, does not exactly help.
The BBC reports that he challenged Chesterfield High School to continue paying him for work he had ceased to carry out:
“When the school became an academy they said his £4,500-a-year employment “arrangement” was “inequitable”.
A judge has dismissed his appeal against an employment tribunal ruling he was not entitled to compensation.
Mr Anderson claimed the school got “kudos” as a result of being “associated with the mayor of Liverpool”.
Judge Daniel Serota said Mr Anderson – who can claim an annual allowance of nearly £80,000 as the directly elected mayor – started work at the school in 2001 when it was under local authority control.
He had been employed as a senior learning mentor, a title later changed to “social inclusion officer”, on a salary of £29,000.
Mr Anderson stopped working at the school five years ago after he became leader of Liverpool City Council on an allowance of about £50,000 a year, said the judge.
The local authority which then controlled the school – Sefton Metropolitan Borough Council – agreed he could continue as a staff member under legislation which allows employees to hold public office.
The authority agreed to pay him the “maximum allowed as paid leave” – 208 hours a year – and had “held open” his post and continued to pay pension contributions.
When the school became an independent academy in late 2011, new bosses said pupils were getting “no benefit” for the £4,500 a year paid to Mr Anderson, so “terminated the agreement”.
The sense of entitlement and vanity is cringe making, of course. This is a pity – I have been quite willing to praise Mr Anderson where he has made sensible changes such as scrapping bus lanes or privatising golf courses.
Is it a coincidence that when the school was under local authority control (albeit a neighbouring local authority) it was willing to carry on paying Mr Anderson money for nothing, but that as an academy it called a halt? The ability to operate independently of political pressures is a great advantage of conversion to academy status.