Calls for delay to controversial 25% allowance increase at Babergh and Mid Suffolk councils
PUBLISHED: 14:29 18 June 2018 | UPDATED: 14:29 18 June 2018
Controversial plans to award councillors at two Suffolk authorities an allowance rise of 25% upwards could be delayed until next year, if opposition proposals go through.
A recommendation from the Independent Remuneration Panel published last week revealed that a 25% rise in the basic allowance for all councillors at Babergh and Mid Suffolk district councils had been put forward, as well as sums more than tripling for those with portfolios.
The recommendation was defended by the two councils’ leaders, but sparked anger from some quarters who said it sent out the wrong message when council officers had only seen a 2% pay increase.
Now, it has emerged that a motion to delay the increase until after the elections next year will be put forward tomorrow afternoon.
Luke Cresswell, Labour councillor for Sudbury South who is making the proposal, said the ward boundary changes next year means there will be fewer councillors, and meant that councillors were not voting on their own allowances when an election could change the make-up of the administration.
He said: “Next year we have the boundary review and therefore it makes sense to do it then.
“It looks terribly bad with the amount of cuts, and we have also been told there is no money and we have to merge.
“If there is money, it is better used on services rather than our allowances.”
Mr Cresswell added: “We put the council tax up by 5% – was that to pay for our allowance increase, because if it was that’s ridiculous.”
The motion will be seconded by independent councillor Derek Davis, who previously voiced his concern that it was too high.
The proposal will go to Babergh’s council meeting from 5.30pm tomorrow, and will require cross party support to go through.
Mid Suffolk District Council is set to discuss the allowance increase on Thursday, although it is not yet clear if a similar motion will be tabled at that meeting.
Babergh council leader John Ward said the proposed increase recognised the increase in work councillors had to undertake, and would still remain low by national standards.
He added: “These allowances will give everyone who wants to get involved the financial security to put their name forward at the next election.”