COLUMNIST: Dozy’s Rambles on councils and pay

WELL, it’s been quite a week. For some it’s impossible to differentiate between Mike Mendoza the local politician and Mike Mendoza the journalist, radio and television presenter.

For me, it’s never been a problem. I believe in saying it how I see it and not be influenced by any political party leanings.

As daft as it may seem, I actually got involved in local politics in order to make a difference, to help my community and to stand up for things I believed in. I don’t think I always got it right, but I always ensured that I put my constituents first.

So it was with a very heavy heart that after being an elected representative off and on since the mid 1980s that I had to resign my seat on Adur District Council for St Mary’s Ward (Shoreham town centre), a ward that I had represented for the past five years and was re-elected to earlier this year, picking up close to 50 per cent of the vote.

I could not have envisaged the amount of work I was to undertake within my job at the new television channel for the south coast. Several of the shows I have contracted to undertake involved news-based programmes, plus I also read the news many times per month.

As I take on more and more duties with Latest TV, I realised that there was to be a conflict of interest, plus the increase in hours was starting to keep me away from my council commitment. I would never undertake a job without being able to give 100 per cent of my time and devotion, I felt I owed it to my supporters, plus I am sure that the majority of those who know me would expect that commitment from me and used to me being like that.

I had to make the decision of giving up a full-time paid job or give up a full-time commitment to my community and a council that is on record as being successfully frugal on behalf of its council tax payers, plus at the same time possesses the lowest-paid councillors in the country.

We are lucky in Adur that several of the cabinet members are of retirement age and can dedicate their time to the job in hand without the worry of a daytime living. I worry for the future of local politics, as it is very much a Catch 22 situation, on one hand councils such as Adur are trying to attract younger blood, but with little reward, other than the satisfaction of knowing they are doing the best for their community. Then on the other hand councils, like our immediate neighbours, pay very high expenses to their councillors, which, of course, are all covered by the council taxpayer.

I know that I leave the council in the knowledge that the district is in an excellent state, I really cannot see any other administration running our affairs in such an efficient and fair way. I have been proud to have played a small part in their success.

One thing I do know is that I will continue to say it as it is and never hold back, if I feel there are wrong doings, I will say so. Keep watching this space!