Anger over 40% council pay rises

MOVES to award a council leader a 40% pay rise in the midst of an economic downturn were last night rounded on by critics as “unwarranted”.

Laurence Cawley

MOVES to award a council leader a 40% pay rise in the midst of an economic downturn were last night rounded on by critics as “unwarranted”.

The proposed allowance hike is part of a raft of suggestions put forward by members of St Edmundsbury Borough Council's members' allowances panel, which would see pay increased for the leader, deputy leader and cabinet member.

The council wants to boost the leader's allowance from £9,990 to £14,448, an increase of 44%, the deputy leader's allowance by 20% from £5,994 to £7,224 and general cabinet members' allowances by 12% from £5,494 to £6,192.

The panel claims the cash paid to senior councillors should be increased because they carry out “significantly” more work than other members.

But the suggestion, which will be scrutinised by the Independent Remuneration Panel in due course, was last night criticised by Labour group leader Mark Ereira.

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Mr Ereira, whose pay as chairman of the overview and scrutiny committee would be slashed by 13% under the proposals, said the cabinet's workload had not increased during the past year and the increase would send out the wrong public message.

“An uplift for the leader and the cabinet is not warranted at this stage. We need to hold back and see what the local government changes are.

“I'm not convinced that the work the cabinet is doing is any greater than it was a year ago. I think John (Griffiths - the council leader) does a lot of work but I think what is being suggested for him is a little much.”

He also criticised the members' allowance panel for claiming the work done by the cabinet was “significantly” greater than that of other members.

“Nobody has asked me how many hours I work so where have they got this from?” he said.

Members' allowances panel chairman Paul Farmer, who is also a cabinet member, said: “Councillors' allowances are recommended by a lay Independent Remuneration Panel (IRP) and then determined by full council.

“Following various adjustments to committees and workloads council decided, for the first time, to set up a members' allowances panel.

“This group of mainly non-cabinet members has met throughout the year to consider all existing and potential allowances and expenses.

“It has regularly both published its deliberations with and positively encouraged input from all councillors, some of whom have contributed.

“The final report, which was unanimously agreed by the members' allowances panel, has been submitted to the IRP, who will decide whether or not to recommend any of its findings to full council.”

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