Councillors get huge allowances rise

By Roddy AshworthCOUNCILLORS in Colchester have voted themselves huge rises in their allowances at the first full council meeting since the borough elections.

By Roddy Ashworth

COUNCILLORS in Colchester have voted themselves huge rises in their allowances at the first full council meeting since the borough elections.

But they turned down a Labour call for cabinet members to take part in a monthly performance appraisal scheme.

The changes to councillors' remuneration will see council leader Colin Sykes' allowance rise from £10,973 to £17,725 - an increase of 64%.

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Cabinet members' allowances will rise by 45% - from £8,634 to £12,525 - while ordinary councillors' “basic” allowances will go up 64% from £2,876 to £4, 725.

No-one in the council chamber voted against the proposed increases, although the amendment calling for monthly appraisals was backed by three Labour councillors and failed.

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The council's overview and scrutiny panel will now look at various options for the introduction of ways to make cabinet members accountable for their allowances.

Council leader Colin Sykes said although he did not object to some sort of appraisal system, he felt the Labour councillors were asking for too much. “No manager in any business would appraise their staff every four weeks,” he added.

Meanwhile, the 142nd Mayor of Colchester was sworn in yesterday before local dignitaries in the grand surroundings of the town's Moot Hall.

Dr Chris Hall was elected at a special meeting of the council, which also saw his wife Elizabeth - herself a doctor - become mayoress.

Dr Hall, who has worked as a GP at the Ambrose Avenue Practice since 1967, announced his mayoral theme for the year would be “Freedom of Spirit”.

After swearing the mayor's oath and signing the acceptance of office, he said: “This mayoralship is an honour not just for myself, but for the people of Castle Ward who have put their trust in me for 16 years.”

He thanked outgoing mayor and mayoress Nigel and Mary Chapman for their work and achievements during their year in office.

Dr Hall named seven organisations as the coming year's mayor's charities: Oakseed (opportunities and knowledge for self-employed enterprises for the disabled); People First North East Essex; Colchester YMCA Foyer; The Multiple Sclerosis Resource Centre; St Helena Hospice Family Grief Support; and St John Ambulance.

Conservative councillor John Bouckley and his wife, Shelagh, were elected to the positions of Colchester deputy mayor and mayoress.

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