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Councillors vote in their ‘pay increase’

Making the big decisions in Lincolnshire County Council's chambers

Making the big decisions in Lincolnshire County Council's chambers

 

County councillors have sought to defend their own decision to add an extra £2,000 on to their yearly allowances.

Lincolnshire councillors voted for a 23 per cent rise in their allowances on Friday last week.

This means they will now be allowed to claim £10,100, up from £8,184. The rise was based on recommendations from the Independent Remuneration Panel.

The increase comes despite the council needing to save about £12m from this year’s budget. Some services have already fallen by the wayside, with councillors voting in December to close 32 of its 47 libraries, including Deepings Library.

Coun Martin Trollope-Bellew (Con), who represents the Stamford Rural ward, explained why the decision had been made to a meeting of Stamford Town Council on Tuesday.

He said: “Most councillors who are doing the job are actually working under the minimum wage.

“If you keep the allowance low, people who want to get into local government can’t because they can’t afford to take the time off. If we want to get people who are good we have got to pay for them.

“There is never a good time to do this. Prior to 2001 we got paid when we turned up and that to me is much better.”

Coun Trollope-Bellew said the council had previously been 27th out of 31 shire authorities in terms of allowances. It is now 18th, but still below average.

Town councillor Harrish Bisnauthsing (Lib Dem), who also sits on South Kesteven District Council, said: “I am totally surprised that councillors are accepting an increase yet the council is cutting services around the county, especially when we are just coming out of a recession.”

The Independent Remuneration Panel recommended an increase in allowances in 2009. But councillors voted against it.

Instead they chose to set up the Councillor Big Society Fund, which has continued to this day. Every year each councillor is given £2,000 to donate to worthy causes in their ward. It is expected this will continue.

Town and county councillor John Hicks (Ind) opted to take the most recent increase but said he would give the difference in what he was receiving to local causes.

Councillors also voted to increase council leader Martin Hill’s special responsibility allowance by 56 per cent from £20,448 to £32,000, although Coun Hill (Con) said afterwards he would not accept the increase.

He added: “All councillors are different, so it should be up to each member to decide whether they take their full allowance or not.”

 

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