YP Letters: Council allowances were generous in the past

Should council meetings be held in the day or at night?
Should council meetings be held in the day or at night?
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From: Ian Bloomer, Darrington Road, East Hardwick, Pontefract.

YOUR correspondent, Councillor Tim Mickleburgh, is clearly clueless when it comes to the history of local government when he refers to the evolution of daytime meetings and payments for being a councillor.

I will give a few examples from 1888 when the West Riding County Council was founded.

The meeting times and dates were all daytime and weekdays, to fit in with the train times for members from Sedbergh in the north of the county and Sheffield and Doncaster in the south.

Train fares and meal allowances were paid, as well as attendance allowance (tax free). This continued until 1974 when reorganisation took place.

I became a Pontefract borough councillor in 1966, the meetings were held during the day and allowances were paid tax-free, some councillors were being better paid than when they were working – and happy to miss a few shifts at the coal mine.

Many rural district councils covered large areas, so meetings had to be held in the daytime, Hemsworth being one.

If meetings were held in the evening, the council was accused of being undemocratic.

I believe I have disproved the myth that paid councillors began in 1974 with local government reorganisations.