Norfolk councillors award themselves big pay rises
PUBLISHED: 09:34 12 December 2017 | UPDATED: 23:22 12 December 2017
County councillors have voted to increase their allowances at a time when services across Norfolk are facing cuts - a move blasted as "obnoxious" by opposition councillors.
An independent panel had acknowledged that there was a need for a review of the allowances which Norfolk county councillors receive.
But “mindful” of potential budget cuts, including cutting subsidies for bus services and reducing spend on children’s centres, the panel recommended the basic allowance remain at £9,401.
However, Conservative leader Cliff Jordan recommended that the basic allowance should increase to £10,500 and that his own special responsibility allowance as leader should go up to £31,700 from £27,495.
He also recommended that the chairs of adult social care and children’s services committees should get an increase from £13,747 to £15,809, given their responsibilities.
Mr Jordan defended the increase, saying Norfolk councillors got less than comparable neighbouring counties.
He said there was never a good time to agree increases, but added: “What I am trying to do is even things out and get things right.”
He said the money - an extra £142,000 - would come from an underspend in the allowances budget.
MORE: Which Norfolk county councillors voted to increase their allowances?
But Labour opposition leader Steve Morphew said it was “dirty money” and that he was “speechless” it had been proposed at a time when vulnerable people face cuts to services.
His group voted against the increase, as did the Liberal Democrats.
The council is currently consulting over cuts as it looks to plug a £125m funding gap by 2022. The proposals include cutting £500,000 from subsidies for buses and community transport and reducing spending on children’s centres from £10m to £5m.
Labour’s Mike Smith-Clare said it was “obnoxious”, while former Labour council leader George Nobbs accused Mr Jordan of finding a “magic money tree” to give himself a “nice Christmas present”, while “kicking the people of Norfolk in the teeth”.
Liberal Democrat leader Dan Roper said he was “aghast” at the proposal.
But Conservative adult social care chairman Bill Borrett said allowances were needed to enable people with limited incomes to serve as councillors.
The council agreed the allowance increase by 39 votes to 26, with two abstentions. A number of Conservative councillors who had been in the meeting earlier today had left by the time of the vote.
The increases will be backdated to May this year.