September 2 2014 Latest news:
Wednesday, March 26, 2014
A council leader has defended his authority granting a basic allowance rise for its own members of almost 10%.
Mid Suffolk District councillors voted through the increase despite objections from opposition members.
The vote will also mean some councillors will see the money to which they are entitled – through special responsibilities like being council vice-chairman – rise by more than 100%.
But it is the first time since 2008 that councillors have agreed to increase allowances despite past reviews recommending rises. An independent panel made the increase recommendation.
Conservative Derrick Haley, leader of the council, said: “We have something there before us which is not of our own making, therefore I can see why we should take this.
“There’s an enormous amount of work that goes into running the authority by members.”
He said he agreed with a point made by independent councillor Ray Melvin, who called for an autonomous body to have the power to award allowance levels and not the council.
Green councillor and opposition leader, Andrew Stringer, said the vote should be postponed to next March but this proposal was struck down. He argued deferring the vote would mean councillors would in effect be setting the allowance level for a new intake of members following the May elections.
He said it was “completely wrong” that the panel had consulted with two council officers when making its recommendation.
Liberal Democrat Penny Otton proposed increasing allowances by 1% to match the rise set for council workers. But this was voted down. The basic allowance will rise from £3,684 to £4,000. Allowances paid in 2012/13 totalled more than £243,000.