Paul Carter (pictured), Conservative Leader of Kent County Council recently gave evidence at the House of Commons. He was providing his "expertise" to the committee considering the Child Poverty Bill.
It is not that long ago when introducing free bus travel for schoolchildren, that Paul Carter ignored child poverty indices, and provided free travel first to Tunbridge Wells, and other leafy parts of West Kent. Thanet needless to say was one of the last parts of Kent to receive this assistance, despite being one of the most deprived areas.
One comment that did strike me was this:
"The east of Kent has social deprivation indices that are off the Richter scale and in the top 20, something we are not proud of. Roger Gale said to me the other day that when he first became an MP (in 1983) he was going to change the dynamic of Thanet in five years. If anything it has gone backwards, not forwards."
Good to see Paul Carter accepting that the independent records show that his selective introduction of free bus travel was not based on need. More interesting though is this coded chiding of Roger Gale's performance as a MP. Nobody can suggest Roger Gale has changed the dynamic of Thanet in the last 26 years.
Contrast his record to Steve Ladyman's work as South Thanet MP in only 12 years to secure the High Speed trains, the rail depot, and possibly a new ferry service. Take party politics out of it. Since 1983 there have been 14 years of Conservative government and 13 years of Labour. As Paul Carter notes Roger Gale has failed to achieve the target he set himself, whichever party was in power nationally.
One of my earliest posts on this blog pointed out that many Conservatives (including I am sure David Cameron) would like to see Roger Gale stand down as a MP. In the current controversy on Roger employing his wife Suzy Gale, it has been notable that no local Conservatives have come forward to support him, no councillors, no Laura Sandys. Here's a prime example of an opportunity to support Roger which was missed.
I do not necessarily object to spouses being employed by representatives. How do we define when a fling has become a relationship? Is it fine to sleep with somebody and employ them? Is it only when married, rather than living together that things change? The proposals are arbitrary and ill thought out. What is needed is accounatbility. Records of the hours people work, when they send emails, attend meetings, answer telephones and actually do work. Roger Gale disagrees and compalins about public scrutiny.
I still have concern that he defended the fraudulent practices of Derek Conway. Any comment on him about the "integrity" of his own financial arrangements needs to be judged by the low standards you can find here. Derek Conway could easily have published dates and times of emails, metings, or telephone records but was unable to do so.
I have a suggestion for Roger Gale on how he can belatedly address social deprivation. Aged 66 he is eligible for the state pension. With 26 years in Parliament he is eligible for a leaving payment of £64,000. He would also receive a pension of 26/40 x £64,000 = £41,600. He may well have other personal pensions, plus the state pension of £4,900/year. He has a property portfolio as well.
So he could be a man of leisure able to find his worth in the job market if he wants extra money, whilst receving £46,500 at least a year. A cut in salary I accept, but more than enough for most people in their twilight years, plus he will not have any work to do, his time will be all his. He could as many retired people do, play an active role in his community and volunteer, there are plenty of local groups who would welcome his involvement. Plus having failed to change the dynamic of Thanet for 26 years, Roger Gale could actually help stimulate the economy by creating a job vacancy.