Councillors set to vote on allowances rise

Banbury Cake: Matthew Barber Matthew Barber

A COUNCIL leader has backed giving councillors more generous allowances by putting them up by two per cent for the first time in three years.

Vale of White Horse District Council leader Matthew Barber supports boosting allowances for 51 members from £3,829 to £3,905.58.

This would set the cash-strapped authority back an extra £3,905.58 and give each councillor an increase of £76.58 next year.

The Independent Remuneration Panel advised against increases last year due to the economic climate, but has stated that this time round any increase should be in line with staff pay awards.

However, leaders at other county authorities say it is unlikely their members will get an increase.

Vale members will consider their potential two per cent rise at the full council meeting on Wednesday.

The authority is also hoping to boost staff pay by two per cent, but this will depend what settlement the Government awards councils for 2013-14. An announcement is expected sometime this month.

Conservative Mr Barber described the potential councillors’ rise as perfectly reasonable. He said: “It is important that whatever we do is in line with how we treat our staff. All this would do is put councillors automatically in line with staff.”

All members of county and district councils are eligible for allowances.

Some received special responsibility allowances for being leader of the council and or taking on other top posts like committee chairmen.

Richard Ballard, deputy chairman for Vale’s Unison branch, said: “We welcome they are keeping in line with staff rather than having more than the staff.”

But city council leader Bob Price ruled out a pay rise despite long-term plans to give staff a two per cent increase, to be agreed.

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He said: “We don’t think it would be appropriate.”

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Cherwell District Council lead member for financial management Ken Atack also said it is unlikely members would back an increase.

He said: “I for one would not accept it and I think that would be the case for everybody else.”

West Oxfordshire District Council cabinet member for resources Simon Hoare said: “I would hope that realpolitik would be to the forefront and realise we are all in difficult financial times.”

Oxfordshire County Council leader Ian Hudspeth was not available for comment spokesman Owen Morton said allowances are set to remain at the current level next year.

South Oxfordshire District Council leader Ann Ducker was unavailable. but the authority is expected to discuss allowances for next year when it meets on Thursday.

 

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