This week, Liberal Democrat Councillors at Eastleigh Borough Council agreed to recommend an inflation busting increase in their allowances of 8% – double the amount proposed by an independent pay review panel and well above the 2% awarded to local council workers.
The Leader of the Liberal Democrat Group and Leader of Eastleigh Borough Council recommended a freeze on his own ‘Leader’s Allowance’, in spite of the independent pay review panel recommending that it be cut by 2.3% to £19,500 a year. In total, he currently pockets around £70,000 per year from his part time positions on Councils and other public bodies.
Conservative and Independent Councillors abstained and voted against the proposals which had not been included in the published agenda or reports pack ahead of the meeting and were instead circulated to committee members and presented by the Council Leader on the evening.
Cllr Judith Grajewski, Conservative Group Leader commented,
“Councillors are well remunerated already. Yes, most councillors work hard but then so do the Council’s staff and if 2 per cent is what they’re getting, I fail to see how councillors can, in all conscience, give themselves an 8 per cent rise when this matter comes to Full Council next month for a final decision. I urge councillors of all three parties to give this careful consideration and reject the recommended pay rise. Eastleigh Borough Council is already strapped for cash and councillors need to do their bit to keep costs down”.
Commenting, Eastleigh’s MP Mims Davies said:
“As a former Councillor I know full well the important role that our locally elected representatives carry out, however, when council workers in Eastleigh are only awarded a pay increase of 2%, I fail to see how the Liberal Democrats can justify their own allowances going up by 8%.
“That’s why I am standing firmly behind the Conservative and Independent Councillors who refused to back these budget busting proposals, and why when a District Councillor a few years ago myself, I voted to reduce Councillors’ allowances.
“Many of my constituents welcomed that the local boundary changes should have led to a reduced cost of local government to the taxpayer and will therefore be disillusioned to learn that last night the local Liberal Democrats decided to hike up the cost of local democracy to their own advantage.”
The 8% rise in Councillors’ allowances at Eastleigh Borough Council would mean that the basic allowance will increase from £6,240 to £6,739 - above the local area average of £5,989 as calculated by the independent pay review panel.