Tuesday, 14 February 2012

Residents views on County Councillors Allowances Sought

As you will be aware that Cambridgeshire County Councillor last year voted (largely through a Conservative majority) to give it's County Councillors the *option* of claiming a 25% rise in allowances (from 7,600 to 10,000). After Full Council had approved the raise it was placed in the awkward position of having it's decision nullified by the fact that the independent remuneration panel was appointed without any reference to the Standards Body.

The Conservatives seem to have learnt from this mistake and have now appointed a panel following the "correct" process.

In my view the aim of this new panel is twofold; proposing a pay rise around the same 25% mark that Council voted through previously (thus validating the previous process and the previous result), and validating the Conservatives pay structure (i.e. Cabinets role - and therefore payment - is increased while opposition shadow cabinet payments - and therefore role - is correspondingly decreased).

It is incredibly frustrating for those of us who form the opposition on the County Council that the ruling Conservative group are once again trying to force-through a process which will give them a rise. If you look at the Conservative budget it clearly shows a line budgeting to raise Councillors allowances - before a single vote has even been cast, or before a single member of the "independent" review panel had been appointed.

Needless to say I will be voting against any such raise and I sincerely hope a clear majority of other Councillors (from all parties) will do the same.

Now here's the bit where you can help. The Independent Panel are looking to hear the views of Cambridgeshire residents, they have created an on-line survey for residents to complete;

On a side note; it's a little frustrating to see the Council wasting it's time (and the time of people who complete this survey) by asking questions totally irrelevant to the matter at hand "Did you vote in the last election?", "Do you know who your County Councillor for your area is?", etc. If these unnecessary questions had been stripped from the survey how much quicker would it have been to fill out?

So I know it's frustrating, but if you passionately believe (as I do) that there should be no rise for County Councillors at a time when we're cutting headcount, and pay for County Council staff please take the time and trouble to register your opinion on the site.