Friday, 9 March 2012

Lib Dems Renew Call For Freeze In Councillor Allowances

Cambridgeshire Liberal Democrats have renewed their call for a freeze in Councillor allowances as a vote on the issue is imminent.

They maintain that as Cambridgeshire County Council makes cutbacks Councillors should not be voting to increase their pay.   

Lib Dem group leader Kilian Bourke said: “We believe that at a time of redundancies, wage freezes and cuts to frontline services it would be wrong for Councillors to use the proceeds of an increase in council tax to give themselves a pay rise.

“A freeze would be the right outcome, and would go some way toward repairing the loss of public trust that took place last year when the Conservatives gave themselves a 25 per cent pay rise.

“It is a shame that they have made provision in this year’s budget for a £100,000 increase, but they still have the opportunity to reject that increase and reallocate it to core services.  We would support this and urge them to do so.”

As well as calling for a freeze in allowances, the Liberal Democrats have made three specific proposals regarding allowances in their alternative budget:
  • To delete the £100,000 set aside in the Conservative budget for an increase in Councillor allowances, and use this to reduce council tax by a small amount;
  • To encourage people from a wider range of backgrounds to stand for election as Councillors by holding meetings later in the day and evening.  Lib Dems believe this would have a greater effect in terms of attracting a wider range of people than even a substantial increase in Councillor pay.
  • To reduce the size of the Cabinet, investing some of the money saved in council services, redistributing the rest between the remainder of the Cabinet.  This better than cost neutral proposal addresses concerns that the Cabinet role is more full time, making holding down a professional job difficult.
County Councillors are expected to vote on Councillor allowances on March 27 if the Independent Review Panel has lodged its report.