County councillors leave door open for pay increase, despite independent advice to forgo rise
Norfolk's county councillors have left the door open to give themselves a further pay rise next year - despite an independent panel "strongly urging" them to forgo that increase.
In December 2017, members of Norfolk County Council controversially voted to increase their basic allowances from £9,401 to £10,500 a year. Subsequent rises linked to local council pay awards mean it has gone up to £10,924 - a 16pc increase.
The leader's special responsibility allowance also went up to £31,700 from £27,495.
The hikes were hugely controversial, as it went against the advice of an independent remuneration panel.
With the council switching from a committee system to a cabinet system, that panel had produced a fresh report.
Those recommendations were discussed by the county council today.
The panel had advised the council not to increase basic allowance for councillors and "strongly urged" councillors to consider forgoing a scheduled rise linked to local government pay in 2020/21.
While accepting the bulk of the report, Conservative leader Andrew Proctor proposed that the decision on forgoing the increase be put off until the council's budget is set in February 2020.
Steve Morphew, leader of the opposition Labour group, opposed that move.
He said: "If you say 'We won't do it now, but in February,' that leaves the door open to give yourselves another pay rise in February. Let's slam that door now."
And Liberal Democrat leader Dan Roper said: "I don't know why we can't give a clear message that we aren't going to be taking it now."
Mr Proctor also proposed that the panel's recommendation that the allowances for the council chairman and vice-chair be slightly reduced should not be heeded.
Mr Proctor said they were still "significant roles" and the overall allowances package would still come in within budget.
And the council voted, by 47 votes to 25, to back Mr Proctor's proposals.
Mr Morphew said the Labour group members would continue to donate the previous increase they had been awarded to good causes, while Mr Roper said he would be donating his to charity.
The meeting also saw the council formally switch back to a cabinet system, with an executive leader model.
It sees the creation of a 10-member cabinet of Conservative councillors, with a scrutiny committee and three select committees.
Mr Proctor, who was re-elected as council leader until 2021, announced his cabinet as:
Graham Plant, deputy leader and cabinet member for growing the economy; Bill Borrett - adult social care, public health and prevention; Margaret Dewsbury - communities and partnerships; John Fisher - children's services; Tom Fitzpatrick - innovation, transformation and performance; Andy Grant - environment and waste; Andrew Jamieson - finance Greg Peck - commercial services and asset management; Martin Wilby - highways and Infrastructure.
The full council also agreed to make the interim appointment of Tom McCabe as head of paid service permanent.
The council has not kept the managing director role after the departure of Dr Wendy Thomson.