Interview transcript from BBC Radio Sheffield , 8th June 2009)
Toby Foster (BBC Radio Sheffield ): Thanks very much for joining us. I said that we didn’t see it coming – did you see it coming? Did you expect to win?
Peter Davies (Mayor of Doncaster): Well, well not really. A great friend of mine told me the night before I was going to get a great shock, and that I would win. I was thinking of saving the deposit at the time.
TF: I can imagine. What was it you think that made people vote for you?
PD: Well we were the only party who gave a distinctive agenda to the electorate. All the others talked waffle. I looked at all the leaflets, I couldn’t make anything of them all, they were all the same.
TF: You did give a distinctive agenda, you’re absolutely right, you made some real points on that. Let’s just have a look – let’s have a look at them shall we? The first one of course I think’s an easy one – you’re going to cut the mayor’s salary.
PD: That’s the first thing this morning
TF: Down to £30,000 a year. Now, some people could look at that Peter and say, well, you get more than that for running a supermarket these days. Surely a council deserves… a bit more respect?
PD: No, the council deserves somebody who’s going to run it properly, and it deserves somebody who’s prepared to give their services partly free, in a sense – at one time all local government councillors did all the free, er, it’s become a gravy train and I’m not prepared to be part of that.
TF: So what about the people who work for you? The deputy mayor, other people in the departments – are you cutting their wages as well?
PD: Er, well, I’ve discussed that with-, well not- not the people in the departments, I can’t- I’ve no control over what they’ve been given, but the deputy mayor and the rest of the cabinet will discuss that at, at the earliest opportunity.
TF: Well, you say you’ve no control over people in the departments, one of the big things on your campaign was that you’re going to cut ‘PC jobs’.
PD: Oh yeah, that’s a different thing altogether, er-
TF: Which jobs are those?
PD: Well, er, I’m going to look into that. Things like Diversity Officers, er, the things that are usually advertised in the Manchester- , well, it’s not the Manchester Guardian now – in the Guardian…
TF: Right, so have-, so, so hang on, so so there are politically…
PD: I mean, I can’t give you a full list at the moment, but I will…
TF: But that’s what you put on your manifesto – you must have had an idea on your manifesto what you were talking about?
PD: Yeah, yeah, all these people who are, sort of, controlling thought processes and this sort of thing, and er, erm… every department is riddled with this sort of nonsense these days.
TF: So currently then, this morning, Doncaster Council is riddled with people who are, who are doing this kind of nonsense, ah… and they’re on notice, are they? People are going to lose their jobs?
PD: Er, very likely.
TF: But we don’t know who they are, yeah? But certainly Diversity Officers…
PD: Obviously I… I’m… well, that sort of thing, yes.
TF: So, the Diversity Officer who’s getting ready for work this morning at Doncaster might as well not bother?
PD: Well, he’s… he’s in employment at the moment…
TF: But he won’t be for long?
PD: …I think, I think we ought to be talking about what we’re going to do sort of, er, now and, er, what I’ve discovered – that might be a more fruitful discussion.
TF: Well, I mean… these are the reasons people voted for you. Very bold points, as you said. Er, you’re going to cut translation services for non-English speakers – that’s a very bold point. It’s more than likely illegal, isn’t it?
PD: I dunno… again, I’ve got to find this out. It’s-
TF: Well it is – let me tell you it is, under the European Court of Human Rights it’s illegal.
PD: -Well, well, well let… we’ll look into this – we’re getting council’s opinion on what I can do and what I can’t do, and that’s…
TF: No, no, you said in your manifesto you would definitely do it.
PD: Yeah, well, I… well, I, er, if, if somebody comes in the way and stops me doing these things, then that is an insult to democracy.
TF: So what was the point of your manifesto? You might as well have said you were going to fly to the moon if you’re just going to say now that you can’t do it.
PD: No, look… I’m going to do my best to do it. If I can’t, I shall tell the electorate why I’ve not been able to do it, and who’s stood in the way of it. The-
TF: Well, the law’s standing in the way of it.
PD: -Just a minute, just a minute. The electorate clearly want me to do that. The law needs changing, then, doesn’t it?
TF: Well, you say the law needs changing-
PD: If we get a new government, then we might get rid of some of this ludicrous legislation, and be able to run our own country again.
TF: Okay, now you’re going to cut the number of councillors from 60 to 20.
PD: That is another difficulty, and the first-
TF: Can’t do it, can you?
PD: Er, well, we can appeal to their moral consciences-
TF: So you can’t do it, can you?
PD: Look, you keep telling me what I can’t do. I’ll find out what I can’t do, and if I can’t do-
TF: You are finding out now, I’m telling you, Peter, you can’t do it. You’d have thought you’d have thought of this before you started.
PD: This is quite a pointless discussion. Completely pointless.
PD: Well – I’m sitting here telling you what I want to do, you’re telling me I can’t do it. I’ll find out – not from you, from other people – if I can do it or not.
TF: Why didn’t you look at to see-
PD: That’s where we go. And then we tell the electorate what’s going on.
TF: Why didn’t you look to see if you could do it before you asked people to vote on it?
PD: Because people want this to happen. And it’s time we-
TF: We all want free speech, Peter, but why didn’t you look into it to see if it could happen before you asked 14,000 people to vote on it? You know what’s going to happen – they got upset with the political processes in Doncaster before, they disliked Martin Winter. You’ve come along, you’ve waved this flag, knowing you can’t back any of it up and they’ve voted for you. How are they going to feel when they realise they’ve been hoodwinked?
PD: They’ve not been hoodwinked, I’m a man of my word, and I shall do everything that I can to put this into practice. And that is something that Doncaster ’s not had before.
TF: You’re going to cut the Gay Pride funding.
TF: Erm, how much did Doncaster Council fund Gay Pride?
PD: Haven’t got a clue, I haven’t looked into… I haven’t got the details, I… I haven’t even started-
TF: About right, isn’t it? So how much did… how much was it worth to Doncaster ?
PD: How…er, what?
TF: The Gay Pride march. 8,000 people in town for a day.
PD: I don’t know. They can still come. There’s nobody stopping them coming.
TF: So you don’t know what it costs, you don’t know what it earns, but you’re banning it?
PD: I’m saying that… hard-pressed taxpayers money should not be spent on promoting any type of sexuality whether it’s straight or gay.
TF: But for all you-, but for all you know it could be making a fortune for the town – you don’t know, you’ve not even looked at it.
PD: Well, it, er… it may, it may or it may not, I’m telling you what I’m not doing, and again it was on the manifesto, it was quite clear people appeared to like what I was saying.
TF: Yeah, but the stuff on the manifesto we’ve already realised – you can’t do anything about it.
PD: I think it’s time we finished this interview, it’s quite pointless. I’ve… I… It’s really wasted… I wanted to say a few things this morning that might have been-
TF: Tell me what you want to say.
PD: …that people might have wanted to listen to.
TF: Tell me what you want to say.
PD: Well, I wanted to point out that this morning I was going to, er, see that two social workers were returned to the childrens hospital, er, which were taken away some time ago for some unaccountable reason. I was going to say we’re getting rid of Doncaster News at the earliest opportunity, and I also wanted to point out that this very weekend I’ve discovered that Doncaster is twinned with nine separate towns, er, that the Mayor… the ex-Mayor had a car, for what reason I don’t know. It’s quite reasonable that the Civic Mayor has a car, but why the elected Mayor has one, God only knows, er, and it looks to me like a Daily Telegraph moment, where I shall be discovering things every day that, er, can be got rid of.
TF: Okay… none of that really means anything, does it? Let’s have a look at Doncaster News. You’re getting rid of Doncaster News, that’s a, er, flyer… er, paper that goes to every home in the borough isn’t it, to tell them what you’re doing?
PD: Well, it was to distort… er, what Mayor Winter was doing, yes.
TF: So now you’re stopping communication with the people of Doncaster ?
PD: No – communication will be through the Doncaster Free Press, though Radio Sheffield if we can get some sensible interviews-
PD: -and, er, the free newspapers.
TF: So the people who work on Doncaster News, then, are they out of work as well?
PD: I don’t know, I don’t… I, I, don’t know what their full… I’ve… I… I’ve not even got… been in the office yet, I’ve… I’ve not even-
TF: This is the problem, isn’t it-
PD: -had the briefing from the Chief Executive-
TF: You actually don’t understand the laws, you don’t understand-
PD: Okay, I’m stopping this interview, it’s a complete waste of time, er, you’re not asking any sensible questions, and er, I really don’t want to continue.
TF: Peter, all I’m asking is how you’re going to deliver on your election manifesto?
TF: Well, I can assure you, that’s going to be one of the easiest he gets.