We store cookies on your device to make sure we give you the best experience on this website. I'm fine with this - Turn cookies off
Switch to an accessible version of this website which is easier to read. (requires cookies)

Norfolk Lib Dem leader opposes Tory increase to councillors’ allowances

December 18, 2017 9:47 PM
By Josie Ratcliffe

A recent decision by Conservative councillors on Norfolk County Council to award themselves big increases in their allowances has sparked a storm.

Dan Roper, Liberal Democrat group leader, is calling for a second vote to force a u-turn. Dan explained why Lib Dem councillors endorse the recommendation of the independent panel that ruled out blanket increases at this time.

"Norfolk County Council is out to "consultation" on a budget plan that doesn't deliver the savings it needs despite a 4.9% council tax increase. The "consultation" puts under threat important services that people need and value: possible cuts to rural bus services, mobile libraries, road gritting and sweeping cuts to children's centres. At this time the council needs to be saving up every bit of spare money it can to balance the budget and protect services. This is not the time for irresponsible spending.

"The Conservatives' decision to put up councillors' allowances by £142,000 a year is irresponsible and offensive. It is offensive to residents who are about to see vital services cut. It is also offensive to hard working council staff who after years of pay restraint have seen the leadership suddenly vote itself a 15% pay rise. The leader of the council talks about "fairness" but has just been voted an allowances package that is double the average earnings in Norfolk.

"An independent panel had looked at councillors' allowances and explicitly ruled out increases for the vast majority. The report concluded that based on workloads only about half a dozen councillors should have an allowance increase. The total cost was less than £8,000 a year. The Liberal Democrats were content to endorse that report; it was independent and fair, recognising that some councillors had more responsibilities than others. The Tories effectively chucked that report in the bin and acted as judge and jury on how much money they thought they deserved.

"The Liberal Democrats absolutely oppose the blanket 11% increase for every councillor and another 15% for the council leadership. There are far better ways to spend £142,000.

"It is ironic that on Monday morning many Conservative councillors were privately complaining about the icy roads on their trip to the council meeting. Yet at that meeting, at a time when the council is consulting on cutting the gritting budget the same councillors voted themselves a pay rise. They put themselves first and the community second.

"I became a councillor to do my best for my community. I represent a rural area, so there is a lot of travel. I have reduced my hours at work due to council activities, I attend a lot of evening meetings. But, I do not feel I need a pay rise. I am in this for public service not for the money. I am sure many councillors of all parties feel the same way. It is a shame that this decision on allowances reflects badly on all of us. I share the public's anger and want this decision reversed with the money going to provide vital services."