Monday, 4 February 2013

Tory and Independent councillors flip flop on allowances

First they were for it, now they claim to be against it. The flip-flopping position of some Tory and Independent councillors on the allowances rise is quite incredible.

There will be a debate at full council next week to rescind the decision taken back in October to increase the basic councillor allowance from May. In October the vote was taken to raise allowances from £12,128 to £14,600 per year. That was, to say the least, controversial and passed by 42 votes to 29. I was one of the 29 who voted against the rise.

Because the vote next Tuesday involves overturning a decision, the signatures of 20 councillors were needed to get it onto the agenda. What is surprising are the names of some of those who signed up.

Just six of the signatories voted against the rise back in October. These - Cllrs Double, Eddowes, Fitter, Ridgers, Sanger and Tucker - are being consistent to their actions back then. Another signatory, Cllr Lionel Pascoe, wasn't on the council in October.

But, of the rest, an incredible ten signatories were absent from the meeting when the vote was taken.

These were councillors Alec Robertson, Sally Bain, John Dyer, Mike Eathorne-Gibbons, Neil Hatton, Lance Kennedy, Phil Parsons, Liz Penhaligon, Carolyn Rule and Armand Toms. Some had been absent for the whole meeting and at least one was ill at the time. Others had been present for earlier debates but had decided to go home before the vote on allowances was taken. Clearly they felt that they had something better to do than vote on the issue of allowances.

But it doesn't end there. One councillor who is now demanding that the decision be rescinded - Cllr Jenny Stewart - was in the meeting but abstained on the vote.

And four more - Cllrs Des Curnow, John Keeling, Tony Martin and Terry Wilkins - actually voted for the allowance rise that they are now seeking to rescind. Their names are listed clearly as being in favour of higher allowances then, but they claim now that this would be a steep in the wrong direction.

If all the councillors who have signed this motion had been present and voted against the rise in allowances back in October, then this debate would not be necessary. But then, this is just one more example of the shambles that the Conservatives and Independents have got Cornwall into.

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