The ‘West End Extra’ reports;
“THE deputy leader of Westminster Council faced a fierce backlash last night (Thursday) after he said a “basic” first-job salary was in the region of £50,000 to £80,000.
Describing housing in the borough, Robert Davis said: “What we really need is affordable housing, not just social housing, for people who are in their first job, have just got a basic, simple job and a salary of £50,000 to £80,000 a year.”
The gaffe has been called his “pint-of-milk moment” in reference to the popular interview question that can leave politicians seeming out-of-touch for not knowing the price of groceries.
Cllr Davis, who also serves as the council’s planning chief, made the controversial comments in a 30-minute interview with a PR company that specialises in working with property developers.
Fellow Westminster councillor David Boothroyd said: “It shows the sections of society the council leadership is in touch with. With everyone else, they’re not so much out of touch, as completely cut off.”
The Labour councillor, who sits on the planning sub-committee alongside Cllr Davis, added: “Since the financial crisis, many people have had to work harder and longer just to make ends meet.” It was an insult to hear from the Conservatives that someone earning double the median wage had a “basic job,” he said.
According to government figures, anyone with a salary of more than £50,000 would be in the top 30 per cent of earners in Westminster, while nationally this would place them in the top 10 per cent.
Cllr Davis has been a member of the council since 1982 and is eligible to receive more than £26,000 of public money in annual allowances for his part-time role at the council. In his professional life he works as a property solicitor and is a partner of the Westminster-based firm Freeman Box where he has worked since 1983.
The company’s website reads: “Our clients range from the entrepreneurial individual to national and multi-national corporations, including supermarket and department store chains, airlines, numerous publicly quoted companies, leisure groups that comprise hotel, restaurant and wine bar chains and major UK-based and global property companies. Freeman Box has also acted for a number of high profile sportsmen and entertainment personalities across a variety of legal matters.”
Cllr Davis told West End Extra yesterday (Thursday): “I was speaking about Westminster’s determination to provide more affordable housing and the council’s continued focus on jobs and growth as part of our Better City, Better Lives ambition. This was just one slip of the tongue during a very long interview.””