The concept of the volunteer is one that David Cameron has rightly championed as part of his promotion of the Big Society. Giving up one’s time, for free, for the benefit of the community, a charity, a school or some other worthy organisation is to be encouraged and applauded. We all moan at times about local government services and the council tax we have to pay. But as a general rule the councillors, who volunteer to take on demanding duties for no more than modest financial reimbursement deserve our praise and our thanks.
The decision about whether councillors can join local authority employees as members of the pension scheme rests with the council itself. For those already in, there is little that can be done. But we would support the Taxpayers’ Alliance in regretting the fact that the role of councillor is becoming much more professional – in the monetary sense – than is desirable. We urge our councils to close off their pension schemes to any further involvement by councillors. We want well-motivated volunteers, not professional politicians, in the council chamber.