A grave error of judgement by councillor
IT MAY come as a surprise to you that councillors each get £3,500 of your money to spend as they see fit every year.
That is not to say the community grant scheme is a bad thing – councillors are our elected representatives. They are people who have decided to stand up and be counted rather than simply moan from the sidelines. They are community leaders to whom we entrust the future of our city so why not give them the power to provide cash grants to benefit the communities they represent?
Even if the scheme is a surprise to many, once you have given it a little thought you may well come to the reasonable conclusion that it is quite a sensible way of distributing taxpayer funds into the communities that our councillors know so well.
However, these funds are given to councillors in their role as public servants and not as private individuals. Our story today appears to highlight a case where that distinction has been forgotten.
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Cllr Patricia Nicholson has broken no rules and her integrity is not in question. But by handing £1,750 of her community grant to an animal shelter which is not even in the ward which she represents she is guilty of a grave misjudgement.
When asked why she chose to use the council's cash to make the donation to Gables Farm she said she feels the shelter does a good job for Plymouth.
That is certainly true and the Herald supports Gables Farm with publicity whenever we get the chance. But there will be plenty of people in Cllr Nicholson's ward who will be wondering today why cats and dogs in another part of the city took priority over their needs and may well be contemplating how much good £1,750 could have done for the people of Peverell.
Cllr Nicholson has a commendable interest in supporting Gables Farm but she should do that as a private citizen with her own money.
In the middle of a recession when our council faces massive cutbacks it is entirely inappropriate for her to indulge her personal passion with public funds.