Wage war on se­crecy

The Peterborough Evening Telegraph - - Your Telegraph -

I’D hate to have the de­tails of my salary splashed all over The Evening Tele­graph. I don’t have any­thing to hide, it’s just none of your busi­ness.

I also wouldn’t want a pic­ture of me in my un­der crack­ers ap­pear­ing in the paper ei­ther (you’ve def­i­nitely got noth­ing to hide there – Mrs T).

But if I was a male model I might think dif­fer­ently about dis­play­ing my wares. And if I worked in the pub­lic sec­tor and was funded di­rectly by the tax­payer I might think dif­fer­ently about my pay packet be­ing on pub­lic show.

I won­der how those seven Peter­bor­ough City Coun­cil em­ploy­ees feel af­ter it was re­vealed in The ET that be­tween them they take home close to a mil­lion pounds each year?

There is an im­por­tant rea­son why their salaries should be pub­lic knowl­edge – and that is so we, the tax­pay­ers, can make a judge­ment on the value (or lack of it) we are get­ting for our £1mil­lion.

If chief ex­ec­u­tive Gillian Beasley was paid £500,000 a year, most of us would think that was ex­ces­sive. But with­out know­ing what she earns we can’t even be­gin to make an as­sess­ment whether it’s rea­son­able or not.

Now I don’t hap­pen to be­lieve their salaries are out­ra­geous. That said, I don’t ex­pect to bump into any of the mag­nif­i­cent seven in my lo­cal pound shop any time soon.

But if I was one of the seven and was ques­tioned about my salary, I would stick my chest out proudly and, in the words of that great philoso­pher L’Oreal of Paris, pro­claim: “Be­cause I’m worth it’’.

Aside from an un­der­stand­able (but as pub­lic ser­vants not jus­ti­fi­able) de­sire for pri­vacy surely their only cause for con­cern would be if they knew they were so over-paid pub­lic ex­po­sure would swiftly lead to a pay cut so se­vere that it would make even our new chan­cel­lor gulp.

A self­ish rea­son, of course, but you don’t ex­pect tur­keys to vote for Christ­mas (al­though I’m sure at the moment there are a few Lib Dem vot­ers who are feel­ing they did just that).

The city coun­cil is to be ap­plauded for its open­ness on this is­sue al­though it con­trasts sharply on the foggy veil it in­sists on draw­ing over de­tails about the £12 mil­lion an­nual spend­ing on con­sul­tants.

The re­lease of the de­tails about top earn­ers’ pay sug­gests the coun­cil doesn’t think it has any­thing to hide or jus­tify. I think they are right.

So why I won­der is there not the same open­ness when it comes to the vast sums the coun­cil is pay­ing con­sul­tants?

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