A welcome gesture from council chief

FOR most of us, a five per cent cut in our salary would be the cue for panic as we wondered how we'd pay the bills.

For Tom Riordan, chief executive of Leeds City Council, it means his annual pay will drop to just over 176,000.

As hardships go, that's not likely to send anyone into a cold sweat.

What makes this particular pay cut a little different though is the fact that it is self-imposed.

Mr Riordan has chosen to reduce his salary as well as forgo a 3,500 raise he was due to receive in April.

He stresses that it was a decision made for personal reasons, and not in response to calls from Communities and Local Government Secretary Eric Pickles asking council bosses to consider taking pay cuts.

Whatever decision he made, Mr Riordan was bound to find himself in a no-win situation.

Do nothing and he would have faced criticism for protecting his own interests while spending cuts saw frontline services suffer.

Dock his pay and he could expect to hear people complaining that he didn't go far enough, as inevitably many will now be saying.

As it is, Mr Riordan's salary cut - which represents an annual saving to the city of 11,779 when pension costs are added - will not make much difference when set against the council's need to find savings of 90m.

Nevertheless, we welcome the intent behind it, while hoping that some of our other highly-paid officials are now persuaded to follow suit.

Cost of booze

GIVEN that Leeds's economy has boomed on the back of its vibrant nightlife it seems churlish to bemoan the sight of revellers crowding our city centre every Friday and Saturday night.

It's important, however, to also recognise how much the behaviour of those who have had too much to drink costs us on an annual basis.

More than a third of crime that occurs in the city centre over the course of a weekend is alcohol-related.

A sophisticated policing operation swings into action every Friday and Saturday, patrolling the traditional hotspots for trouble.

Bars and other premises now make a contribution to the cost of keeping drinkers safe, but that is not to say that taxpayers don't still bear a considerable burden.

It is clear that a balance must be struck between making sure fewer people drink to excess and not ruining the fun of a night on the town.

Perky pensioners

RECENT research concludes that one in five of us will live to see 100.

By 2045 there are expected to be more than 200,000 centenarians in the UK, making the sprightly pensioners featured in today's YEP a common sight.

Given that longer life expectancy keeps pushing back retirement age, the chances are we're going to need some of their energy.

Sarah Champion MP

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