Council leader opposes rise in member allowances

George Roberts

Recommendations to increase the allowances paid to councillors will not be supported by a number of members, including the council leader.

Each year, councillors are paid allowances in recognition of the time they spend on council work, as well as to cover minor expenses.

The basic allowance, which is granted to every member, is £8,143. Special responsibility allowances are also granted to some members, including the leader, deputy leader, mayor and leaders of opposition parties.

This year, the Independent Remuneration Panel has recommended that many of these allowances be increased. The recommendations include raising the basic allowance by £117 to £8,260, increasing the leader’s allowance from £24,428 to £24,780 and the deputy leader’s from £13,434 to £13,629.

Ultimately, the council gets to decide whether or not to adopt the recommendations, which will be debated at a meeting on Tuesday.

Ahead of the meeting, council leader Cllr Andrew Johnson (Con, Hurley and Walthams) stated that he would not be supporting an increase.

He said: “Just for the avoidance of doubt I will be voting against the central recommendation of the report produced by the independent body reviewing the current scheme of councillors’ allowances.

“That is to say that I do not support any increase in our allowances.

“Whilst we are required to report on the body’s recommendations, this does not mean that we endorse them. However, all elements will be thoroughly debated on the night.”

Cllr Lynne Jones (Ind, Old Windsor), leader of the local independents, echoed Cllr Johnson’s sentiment.

She said: “We are personally on the same page regarding general councillor allowances. I look forward to the debate.”

As things stand, the leader of the main opposition group receives £4,886, while other opposition leaders receive £1,221. Under the new recommendations, the two opposition leaders will split £6,195 according to the numbers of members in their groups.

The change would see Cllr Simon Werner (Lib Dem, Pinkneys Green) receive a smaller allowance – something he supports.

He said: “I’m the only one whose allowance is going down, and I’m quite happy about that.”

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