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Mid Suffolk councillors’ 25% allowance rise ‘degrades democracy’ claims opposition

PUBLISHED: 00:57 22 June 2018

Green councillor Andrew Stringer said such a large increase 'degrades democracy' Picture: SUFFOLK COUNTY COUNCIL

Green councillor Andrew Stringer said such a large increase 'degrades democracy' Picture: SUFFOLK COUNTY COUNCIL

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Proposals to award Mid Suffolk councillors an allowance rise upwards of 25% have been given the green light – just days after Babergh decided the same.

Babergh council leader John Ward (left) with his opposite number from Mid Suffolk, Nick Gowrley - both leaders defended the allowance rise Picture: PAUL GEATERBabergh council leader John Ward (left) with his opposite number from Mid Suffolk, Nick Gowrley - both leaders defended the allowance rise Picture: PAUL GEATER

Mid Suffolk District Council met last night where an increase on basic allowances – which are currently £4,000, but will now go up to £5,000 – was given the go ahead.

Plans to increase allowances for cabinet members with portfolios from £2,000 to £6,250 per year were also approved at last night’s meeting.

Green councillor Andrew Stringer said the move “degrades democracy” – and “appears grubby”.

The recommendation was put forward by the Independent Remuneration Panel, and looked at by a joint cross party group ahead of the vote.

Sixteen councillors voted for the allowance hike while 12 voted against.

Twelve councillors were not present at the meeting.

Mr Stringer said: “I have a bond and a promise I make about the people that elect me that trumps anything in this room, and that is that I will never vote for my own raise.

“I think it degrades democracy. It does happen in the House of Commons and it appears grubby. It’s in our hands not to have that happen.”

Rachel Eburne, leader of the opposition, added: “We are not delivering in some key areas such as a five-year land supply for the public, and this is something we need to focus on.

“I fear this could be seen as a reward for underachievement.”

Concerns were raised that the vote was happening on councillors’ own allowances, when it could be deferred until after the election next year.

The level of the increase compared to those of council officers was also a concern raised.

Liberal Democrat leader Penny Otton added: “We hear time and time again that money is tight so is this the right time to increase the overall budget so highly?

“Staff have been subjected to a 1% and 2% rise over the past years, councillors should do the same.”

But council leader Nick Gowrley defended the increase.

He highlighted that many had compared the percentage increase with that of council officers, but said: “I think this comparison is unfair and illogical.

“The lowest paid member of staff at Mid Suffolk gets £17,000 a year, members here haven’t had their allowance reviewed for over four years.

“I think it’s important to note this recommendation has been determined by the panel.”

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