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The public are fuming about rises

PUBLISHED: 15:31 26 March 2018 | UPDATED: 15:32 26 March 2018

Norfolk County Council headquarters. County Hall Martineau Lane, Norwich. Photo: Steve Adams

Norfolk County Council headquarters. County Hall Martineau Lane, Norwich. Photo: Steve Adams

Archant

I was delighted to read the letter (March 17) from the chair of the Independent Remuneration panel whose recommendations on allowances for Norfolk County Councillors were ignored as Conservatives voted through a whacking increase.

Your readers might like to know a bit more about the process. Councillors can ignore the recommendations of the Independent Panel but that’s usually a fall back only used in case something goes dramatically awry or there are details missed.

The panel is recruited through an advert, applicants chosen by a cross party group of councillors and approved by full council. This panel was approved on April 10, 2017 to serve for five years. Those chosen can’t be councillors or beneficiaries.

The Independent Panel has four members. The chair and author of the letter to the EDP (is a prominent business person who has served on the panel before so knows the ropes). The other three are a former EDP editor with acres of relevant experience, the vice-chancellor of NUA and a retired lawyer with lots of experience as monitoring officer in a council - whose job is making sure councillors adhere to the rules.

To be honest it would be difficult to find a better spread of informed and experienced people for the job. It isn’t an easy task.

The whole point of being independent is to avoid the impression councillors are lining their own pockets and to reassure the public there has been an objective evaluation of what’s fair and reasonable in the circumstances. The ‘circumstances’ balance affordability and reasonable reward. The report that came before the county council did its job well whether or not Norfolk Tories agreed with the conclusions.

Can Norfolk Tories really now be so shocked that ignoring the Independent Panel while proposing budget cuts to essential services has provoked such a high and sustained backlash?

Cliff Jordan may not want to talk about it any more but if he knocks on any doors in Norfolk he’ll soon find plenty of people who do - and they are still fuming.

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