Councillors ready to agree pay rise for themselves

New Tory leader is one of main cheerleaders for the rise

Thursday, 30th June — By Richard Osley

10_Cllr Gio Spinella

Conservative leader Gio Spinella

COUNCILLORS are due to agree a pay rise for themselves on Monday evening, with a near 2 per cent lift.

And one of the loudest cheerleaders of the increase is the leader of the Camden Conservatives who thinks an even bigger bump is necessary.

Councillor Gio Spinella told an audit commission meeting that he believed barriers needed to be removed for people seeking to become a councillor.

But he also warned that there needed to be a “reality check” on the cost of living for Camden’s local politicians.

“I’m fully aware that there are some people who say that public service is its own reward, but unfortunately EDF or any other utilities will not accept payments in public service alone.”

Although the former leadership of the local group did not always support a rise in allowances over several years, Cllr Spinella said that he had “long believed that councillors’ allowances should be a bit more reflective of the realities of the cost of life”.

Leader of the opposition Lib Dem councillor Tom Simon

The new deal will give councillors a basic allowance of £10,995 a year, although more than half of them will also benefit from payments for additional roles.

Cllr Spinella added: “I’m also mindful that Camden is at the lower end for the basic councillor allowance. I’m aware Westminster in the past paid less, but Brent paid more. And if you look outside London, councillor allowance, say in the city of Edinburgh, is £17,000 a year.”

At an all member meeting on Monday, councillors are expected to vote in favour of a 1.75 per cent rise to the allowance – in line wih what was awarded last year to council staff and recommended by an independent panel.

These levels are likely to be looked at again when a London-wide review of councillor allowances is finished later this year.

The issue of people from all backgrounds being able to afford to serve as councillors has come up several times over the years.

The audit committee also heard that the council needed to review its rate of reimbursement for claims available to councillors who need childcare while they are at meetings and other Town Hall duties.

New Labour councillor Matt Cooper said there needed to be a wider “sensitive” survey of councillors.

“This is always a tricky subject for people and I’m not sure if everybody can come to an informed decision about what councillors need” and that more discussion should “see if what they are getting matches what they actually need”.

Lib Dem group leader Councillor Tom Simon said he agreed with the rise and that the independent panel took away the political pressure.

He added: “For many years from 2010 onwards, the allowance scheme was effectively frozen – which meant a decrease in real terms – due to the background of austerity which sort of merged into nobody wanting to vote in favour of increasing councillors’ allowances in that context.”


HOW THE ALLOWANCES WILL BREAK DOWN

Basic allowance for all councillors: £10,985

Posts with additional payments
(figures paid on top of basic allowance):

LEADER OF THE COUNCIL: £42,655
NINE CABINET MEMBERS: £26,660

LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION: £17,355
DEPUTY LEADER OF OPPOSITION: £5,865
OPPOSITION WHIP: £5,865

MAYOR OF CAMDEN: £17,355
DEPUTY MAYOR OF CAMDEN: £4,265

CHIEF WHIP: £11,570
DEPUTY WHIP: £5,865

CHAIR OF PLANNING: £11,570
FIVE CHAIRS OF SCRUTINY COMMITTEE: £9,595
CHAIRS OF PENSION, AUDIT & LICENSING COMMITTEES:
£9,595
MEMBER OF ADOPTION, FOSTERING PANEL: £9,595

LEADER OF SECOND OPPOSITION GROUP: £5,865

FOUR CABINET ADVISERS: £2,130


 

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