Councillors could have allowances frozen
DISTRICT councillors could face a cut or freeze in their allowances as the council strives to find budget savings of more than £1 million.Senior councillors and directors are studying the allowances of 40 mid Suffolk district councillors, which are allowed for the work the members do and for travelling on council business.
DISTRICT councillors could face a cut or freeze in their allowances as the council strives to find budget savings of more than £1 million.
Senior councillors and directors are studying the allowances of 40 mid Suffolk district councillors, which are allowed for the work the members do and for travelling on council business.
The council is currently facing a financial crisis as it try to save more than £1 million, in an effort to keep council tax rises down after a central Government grant £300,000 less than before.
All councillors are entitled to £228.50 a month as a basic allowance, extra travel allowances and allowances for specific responsibilities, such as leader or portfolio holder.
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Roger Saunders, Conservative leader of the council, said: "We are seriously looking at this, it's a proposal that's been put forward, although not by a councillor.
"There will be some movement downwards or they will stand still. At the moment there is an automatic increase each year.
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"This is very tricky ground, as a group, an administration, we can come to a decision but it is not formal until it is discussed, and nothing is fixed until the Executive meet next month."
Mr Saunders refused to be drawn on the amounts that could be saved from changes to councillors' allowances.
As part of its savings options the authority is considering closing public toilets in Stowmarket at the Recreation Ground, in Needham Market at Barretts Lane, and in Debenham in Little Back Lane in an effort to cut costs by £15,000.
One district councillor believes his colleagues should take cuts in travelling allowances, to save the authority £10,000 every year and wants a standard 25pence rate regardless of engine size.
Councillors currently receive an allowance according to the size of the car engine, ranging from 34.6p for a 999cc engine to 48.5p for a 1,200cc or bigger.
Green district councillor Andrew Stringer has told council officers that reducing the allowances paid for mileage would save £10,000, which could help keep the toilets open.
Mr Stringer, who does not claim any travelling allowances, said: "I think it's totally immoral, we should not be rewarded for using big cars.
"I want a flat rate to encourage people to car share and if we have a big car, that's our loss. At present the rates are set to encourage the use of larger vehicles and to discourage using public transport or bicycles.
"We are saying to the public at the moment that we are financially in trouble and might have to start cutting services. This would go a long way to keeping public toilets open.
Mr Stringer, said some colleagues have backed his idea and others were
furious at the suggestion.
George Frost, an Independent councillor, said he would have very real concerns that some people who really need the money could be deterred from serving the community by even smaller allowances.