Councillors turn down pay rise

By Harriet Ernstsons Wednesday 20 February 2013 Updated: 22/02 10:04

COUNCILLORS have voted against proposals to increase their salaries by more than £58,000 between them.

A report put forward by the Independent Remuneration Panel - which reviews councillors' allowances each year - suggested increasing each Redditch Borough councillor's basic allowance by £850 a year from £3,350 to £4,200.

Other increases were also recommended for councillors with extra responsibilities.

If accepted, the proposals would have seen council leader Bill Hartnett's allowance increased from £8,257 to £12,600 and overview and scrutiny chair Coun Juliet Brunner would have received an extra £4,291 - a total of £6,300 a year - while those serving on the overview committee would have seen their additional £1,072 allowance taken from them.

The report also suggested adding £4,450 to Coun Andy Fry's pay - £2,640 extra for chairing the planning committee and £1,810 more for chairing licensing.

Redditch borough councillors are the lowest paid in the county, with Wyre Forest councillors the highest paid receiving at least £7,069.

But despite the figures Coun Hartnett said he did not believe it was appropriate to increase allowances during tough economic times.

"The primary aim of being a councillor isn't the financial reward. In the days of old there was no payment and then councillors were only paid by their attendance at committees whereas now it's a flat rate expense with extra responsibility for particular duties," he said.

"The reason we didn't put them up is we are in austere times and implementation would have cost £58,000 so we didn't think it was appropriate to take rises."

At a meeting where the proposals were turned down, Coun Carole Gandy, leader of the Conservative group, called for the Government to take on the responsibility of determining councillors' pay.

"This is always going to be an almost impossible situation. We are in a really difficult position at the moment and then when we get to the stage where the good times come again, we will be so far behind it would look obscene to take a 25 or 30 per cent pay increase," she said.

"This needs to be taken out of our hands and determined nationally so every council leader, every deputy leader and so on is paid the same. Ultimately although some might have a slightly bigger population, the workload and responsibility is very similar."

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