Tuesday, 19 January 2010

Allowances - the results

Cornwall Council has voted to freeze allowances, but - in what I think looks like a cynical ploy by the Conservatives - the freeze will only apply for a year.

The debate went along party lines and, in the end, just nine councillors voted in favour of higher allowances. Those nine were independents and included cabinet members Julian German, Neil Burden, Mark Kaczmarek and Graeme Hicks.

But the Lib Dem amendment to freeze allowances for the full term of the council (in line with our manifesto pledge) was defeated by a combination of Conservatives and Independents. To me, that seems like a cynical ploy to put off a hugely unpopular rise until after the general election.

Another Lib Dem amendment, to restrict the number of special payments a councillor can receive was also rejected. At present, councillors can take each allowance to which they are entitled. So Alec Robertson receives an allowance as Leader of the Council and also an allowance as Conservative Group Leader.

I can promise that, when this subject is raised again next year, I will continue to vote to freeze allowances.

UPDATE: My colleague Jeremy Rowe has added his own thoughts

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

the recommendation was to keep allowances at the current amount. you presume that the independents wanted to increase them. the independents are a hard working bunch, perhaps they wanted to reduce the basic allowance and bring back an attendance allowance. this would reward those doing the work, rather than those just turning up once every six months so they can continue to be paid paper councillors.

Alex Folkes said...

I presume that many independents wanted to increase allowances because that is what they said in debate. I think it is wrong to characterise any group as wholly hard-working or wholly not. Although a couple of councillors raised the idea of an attendance based allowance, there was no amendment put forward to this effect. In any case, everyone accepts that a huge amount of the work of a councillor is not in the form of formal meetings at county hall and so it is almost impossible to measure amount of work in any meaningful way.