Search

Tempers flare as councillors vote for tax hike - and pay rise for themselves

PUBLISHED: 17:07 17 February 2020 | UPDATED: 17:07 17 February 2020

County Hall in Norwich. Norfolk County Council leader Andrew Proctor (left) and opposition Labour leader Steve Morphew (right). Picture: Neil Perry/Norfolk County Council/Denise Bradley

County Hall in Norwich. Norfolk County Council leader Andrew Proctor (left) and opposition Labour leader Steve Morphew (right). Picture: Neil Perry/Norfolk County Council/Denise Bradley

Neil Perry/Norfolk County Council/Denise Bradley

Tempers flared in the council chamber as Conservative councillors agreed to award themselves a third pay rise in as many years - while simultaneously raising council tax.

Thomas Smith, Conservative councillor for Gaywood South. Pic: Norfolk Conservatives.Thomas Smith, Conservative councillor for Gaywood South. Pic: Norfolk Conservatives.

For the second consecutive year, Norfolk County Council agreed to press forward with plans to raise allowances by 2pc, despite an independent advice panel warning them against making the move.

And there were heated exchanges as tempers flared between Conservative councillor Thomas Smith and members of the Labour group, which proposed scrapping the increase.

All but one Conservative councillor voted in favour of awarding themselves the increase, which will see allowances increased by 2pc - in line with a pay rise for council staff.

It came as the council also agreed to raise its council tax share by almost 4pc -an increase that will see more than £50 a year added to bills for Band D properties.

County Hall in Norwich. Norfolk County Council leader Andrew Proctor (left) and opposition Labour leader Steve Morphew (right). Picture: Norfolk County Council/Neil Perry/Denise BradleyCounty Hall in Norwich. Norfolk County Council leader Andrew Proctor (left) and opposition Labour leader Steve Morphew (right). Picture: Norfolk County Council/Neil Perry/Denise Bradley

However, as a Labour motion to forgo the allowance hike was debated, there were fiery exchanges between Mr Smith and opposition members.

You may also want to watch:

Mr Smith, who represents the Gaywood South division, accused Labour members of opposing allowance increases while "putting every penny in their pockets".

Since 2017, when councillors were awarded a controversial 11pc pay rise, Labour members vowed to use the increase to help causes in their communities.

In response to Mr Smith's allegations, group leader Steve Morphew said: "I am very happy for people to complain about my policies or my political beliefs, but as soon as they attack our integrity we have a problem.

"He called us liars and said we are not doing the things we are - that is absolutely unacceptable."

Andrew Proctor, leader of the council, said: "Sometimes in the heat of debate you do find emotions running high and we can end up saying things that perhaps we later regret."

Mr Proctor confirmed he would be discussing the conflict with Mr Smith, with Mr Morphew indicating that he would be making a formal complaint against the Conservative councillor.

Rhodri Oliver, who represents the Attleborough ward, was the only Conservative councillor to vote against taking the allowance increase.


If you value what this story gives you, please consider supporting the Eastern Daily Press. Click the link in the yellow box below for details.

Become a supporter

This newspaper has been a central part of community life for many years, through good times and bad, serving as your advocate and trusted source of local information. Our industry is facing testing times, which is why I’m asking for your support. Every single contribution will help us continue to produce award-winning local journalism that makes a measurable difference to our community.

Thank you.

Most Read

Most Read

Latest from the Eastern Daily Press