Fresh vote over Norfolk councillor allowance increase as opponents eye u-turn
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Councillors will today decide whether to put a stop to a controversial move to increase their allowances - at a time when millions of pounds of cuts and savings are being considered.
Before Christmas, Norfolk county councillors voted, by 39 votes to 26 with two abstentions, to increase their basic allowance from £9,401 to £10,500 a year.That was despite an independent panel recommending basic allowance should stay at the current level, bar any percentage increase local authority staff get,
The panel accepted a need for a 'fundamental review', with allowances lower than in neighbouring counties, but recommended any changes should happen next year.
They highlighted how the council has been consulting over 'significant budgetary reductions'.
But Conservative leader Cliff Jordan went against the recommendation and proposed the basic allowance increase. He also recommended his special responsibility allowance as leader should go up to £31,700 from £27,495, although he subsequently said he would donate his increase to charity.
He also recommended the chairs of adult social care and children's services committee get an increase of £13,747 to £15,809. The independent panel had said their allowances should go up.
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The increases will see £142,000 shared among county councillors, from an under spend in the allowances budget.
But Labour and the Liberal Democrats, who voted against the hike, have forced today's special meeting, where they will put forward a motion which will see all 84 councillors vote on whether to rescind the increase.
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Mr Jordan has said that putting up allowances is the right thing to do. He said that, with the council having to plug a £125m funding gap by 2021/22, there will never be a 'good' time to tackle the issue of allowances.
However, Labour leader Steve Morphew and Liberal Democrat leader Dan Roper, say it is not the time to increase allowances when services are under threat.
Consultation has just finished, ahead of next month's budget setting, with bus subsidies and funding for children's centres potentially being cut.