Councillors approve their own 25% allowance increase
PUBLISHED: 09:00 20 June 2018 | UPDATED: 11:07 20 June 2018
Plans to approve an allowance increase for Babergh councillors of 25% upwards have been given the go ahead – despite swathes of public criticism.
Babergh District Council met this evening to discuss recommendations by the independent remuneration panel, which proposed to increase the basic allowance for councillors from £4,000 to £5,000.
As well as the basic increase, further hikes were recommended which included tripling the allowance of cabinet members from £2,000 to £6,250 per year.
It means that basic allowance costs alone will rise by £83,000 at both Babergh and Mid Suffolk councils, with a further £85,000 rise on cabinet members.
Labour’s Luke Cresswell put forward a motion to implement any changes from after the election in May next year to make sure that members were not voting on their own allowance, and said that the plans to reduce the number of councillors from May 2019 would mitigate against some of that cost.
But the proposal was voted down, and the initial plans were approved by 26 votes to eight.
Mr Cresswell said he was “disappointed but not surprised”, describing it as Conservatives out to “fill their own pockets”.
He added: “We knew what we were getting when we stood for election.
“We are cutting services and increasing allowances, it is totally unjustifiable.”
Several councillors voicing their discomfort at the figures pointed to pay rises of only 2% for council officers as key, as well as a drive by the council to cut costs – particularly given the council tax increase.
Council leader John Ward pointed to the fact that the last allowance review was held four years ago in 2014, and said the increase reflected the additional work councillors now had to do.
He added: “It also, quite rightly in my view, remunerates those of us who have been working very, very hard over the past year.”
Several councillors said it was “never the right time” to discuss an allowance increase, and that Babergh was well below average for the allowance it currently pays.
It was approved that no councillors would be entitled to claim more than two special responsibility allowances, and that it would be backdated to May 22 2018.
Mid Suffolk District Council will decide on Thursday.