The new Labour/Green administration on Leeds City Council is planning four ‘Member Learning Days’ for 2010/11 with each one estimated to cost £2,000, not including costs associated with the use of staff time.
The events will last all day and include a range of activities such as sessions on planning, governance and conduct and being a corporate parent. However the session also involves the opportunity to learn how to tweet, a head and shoulder massage, manage stress, manage blood pressure and tips on physical activity.
Cllr Alan Lamb, a Conservative councillor and the Shadow Executive member for Children’s Services, feels it is a waste of council resources.
Cllr Lamb says:
“Given the financial difficulties being faced by families living both in Leeds and nationally I was utterly stunned when I saw that the new administration planned to waste nearly £10,000 to run four of these so called councillor’s learning days throughout 2010/11.
"There is nothing wrong with councillors receiving relevant training to perform their role but getting free massages and guidance on how to manage your blood pressure is simply unacceptable – I know that my blood pressure rose when I saw this scheme and could hardly believe it when I saw that the new Executive Member for Learning, Cllr Jane Dowson, had signed a letter encouraging councillors to attend the event.
"All councillors should be aware of their responsibilities upon election to council and any training should be restricted to essential or specialist skills – this seems to me to be a frivolous waste of
money at a time when the new administration should be facing up to economic reality.”
How many training courses do you think councillors would go along to if they had to pay for them out of their own pockets? Having a massage would be at least be of genuine benefit – in contrast to sitting with glazed eyes waiting for the coffee break as some bureaucrat burbles self serving gobbledygook. But let Cllr Dowson pay for her own massages.