CamdenNewJournal

The independent London newspaper

Council leader: Football’s coming home – but I can’t give staff the day off!

Tories warn Corbyn's idea for a bank holiday would cost £5 billion

09 July, 2018 — By Richard Osley

Georgia Gould (centre) celebrates England’s victory over Colombia earlier in the tournament with other Labour local authority leaders

TOWN Hall chief Georgia Gould today (Monday) declared ‘it’s coming home’ as she predicted England will be crowned the World Cup winners on Sunday – but she is not offering staff a day off to celebrate, as Jeremy Corbyn has called for.

The Labour leader is ultra confident that England are heading for victory in their semi-final against Croatia, which would be followed by a historic showdown in the final with either France or Belgium.

Asked by the New Journal if she agreed with Mr Corbyn’s view that bringing home the famous trophy from Russia should trigger a bank holiday, she said she was fully on board with the idea at a national level.

But she added that it was a matter for chief executive Mike Cooke to decide staffing arrangements at the Town Hall.

“It’s not something I have the power to decide,” said Cllr Gould. “I think what’s happening around England is really positive. What I’ve seen in Camden is people from all different background celebrating together. It brings people together.”

The last time the council workforce was given a bonus day off across the board was when Camden was named ‘council of the year’ in the mid-2000s.

Ms Gould, a QPR supporter who watches England matches in full kit and is investigating whether more big screens can be arranged for outdoor viewing in time for a potential final, said: “It’s definitely coming home. Do you want me to sing? I believed it from the start. I always believed that England were going to win the competition, even if it’s hope over experience.”

Some Labour supporters believe the idea of a celebratory day off will be a non-starter with Theresa May’s government because it was suggested by the Labour leader and therefore would not be endorsed.

The leader of the Conservatives,  Councillor Oliver Cooper, however, said Mr Corbyn had not properly thought the idea through.

“I really hope football’s coming home, and I fully expect people to celebrate into the night when it does,” he said. “But you can’t organise a bank holiday at 12 hours’ notice – as Georgia admits by saying she doesn’t have the power to give even her own staff the day off Businesses and vital public services across the length of the country have to be able to plan for none of their employees showing up the next day.”

He added: “People that are paid by the hour or day need to know they’ll get paid for that day to budget for their families. And the global financial markets need to know when London’s exchanges are going to be open. I think it shows the sort of naivety that only somebody that’s never managed staff and never had to manage a shoestring budget could demonstrate.”

England are on the brink of emulating the football heroes of 1966 and excitement is building ahead of the match against Croatia which will begin with Gareth Southgate’s team as close favourites. The national side has not been so far in the World Cup finals since 1990, when they fell to Germany on penalties.

Cllr Cooper, a season ticket holder at Arsenal, said: “A much better idea would be to push for one Premier League match a weekend being broadcast free-to-air, and helping to plough more money into the grassroots game, especially women’s football. That would really help celebrate football coming home, rather than a gimmick that’d cost the economy £5 billion.”

A spokesman in Mr Corbyn’s office said over the weekend: “We don’t want to get ahead of ourselves, but I think it is the case that Jeremy believes that if England were to win the World Cup there should be a public bank holiday in celebration. The World Cup is a very special international competition. It’s something that brings people together on a very large scale and we need recognition of that and recognition of the importance of football in the country.”

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