Many people will be glued to their television this Saturday to watch the semi-finals of Strictly Come Dancing. I have to admit to being a fan myself, mainly because I am a hopeless dancer and I marvel at those who can. One dance that will not be featured though is the hokey cokey. If it had been, then I would have suggested to the producers of the show that they should invite Cllr Colin Lambert, the leader of Rochdale Council, to make a guest appearance as politically he has been performing this dance for the last two months.
In October, he decided he was going to award the council’s Chief Executive a £40,000 a year pay rise. Then, because of the obvious chorus of objection, this decision was in doubt and it was reported by multiple news sources that the pay rise was not going ahead. Good news, so we thought, but then it appeared that the pay rise was back on. We were contacted by Rochdale’s MP, Simon Danczuk who said, “He is going to get it. It’s all smoke and mirrors. Watch outcome of council meeting tomorrow.” The next day the full council meeting decided to defer a decision until this month.
Any sensible person would have decided there and then that this pay rise was not going to happen and would have worked out a way to successfully back-peddle. Not Cllr Lambert. Instead, he still tried to plough ahead with the pay rise and had to face the humiliation of being voted down by his own group in a group meeting earlier this week. Last night, at a full council meeting, months of hokey cokey politics culminated in the chief executive being awarded a pay rise of 1 per cent, in line with other council employees.
With this standard of leadership on display in Rochdale, local residents are really being short changed. It should have been obvious that awarding a massive hike in pay to the council’s Chief Executive was wrong and could not be justified. Thankfully, eventually, the right decision has been made, but local people will be concerned that the driving force behind the rise is still leading the council.