A couple of days ago our local paper contacted me following the latest batch of Taxpayers Alliance agitation about the pay of senior executives at Bradford Council. Quite right to make the challenge - this is, after all, public money. My response (given that I really don't agree with the Taxpayers Alliance on this one) was:
Councillor Simon Cooke said while he had "a lot of time for the TaxPayers' Alliance", it was time the campaign group recognised that billion-pound-turnover organisations like Bradford Council would have well-paid chief executives.
He said if the council didn't pay competitive salaries, it would lose its "very best people" to the private sector.
He said: "The argument is really marginal to the costs of the council to the taxpayer.
"They keep repeating these things time and time again. It's really not the kind of line I'm happy with at all.
"I don't think anyone who works for Bradford Council - and this is not a reflection of the quality of their work - is overpaid."
You don't have to agree with me. And remember that those big salaries are all agreed by us as councillors - we vote on them at full council meetings. It's open and transparent - if you don't like what we decide, you have the chance to elect someone else.
Today I'm reading the same story only this time its the NHS.
Figures for Bradford district showing how many NHS employees get in excess of £100,000 revealed Airedale NHS Foundation Trust has 74 including four non-clinical employees, Bradford District Care Trust has 24 employees including three in non-clinical roles, Bradford Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust has 220 employees including its four non-clinical Trust's board members while NHS Airedale, Wharfedale and Craven CCG has none, NHS Bradford City CCG has two non-clinical employees and finally NHS Bradford Districts CCG has two non-clinical staff.
The same applies. If we want the best quality of staff then we've to pay the sort of salaries that attract the best staff. However, there's a problem - for most of these organisations no-one was available to be accountable, to respond to the Taxpayers Alliance's criticism:
"A Bradford Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust spokesman said..."
"A spokesman for Airedale NHS Foundation Trust, said..."
This concerns me - whereas criticism of Bradford Council gets substantive response from three people who are in positions to influence the decisions, for the NHS the critic is fobbed off with an anonymous 'spokesman'.
This reminds me just how the NHS is more or less unaccountable, how difficult it is to level any substantive criticism of their decision-making, and how impenetrable the system has become to anyone not granted privileged access.