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Shepway councillors pass up chance of a pay rise

By Folkestone Herald  |  Posted: February 25, 2013

By Paul Eccleston

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COUNCILLORS have passed up the opportunity to award themselves a pay rise – but could return to the proposal in future.

A meeting of Shepway District Council decided only to "receive and note" a report on allowances rather than accept its recommendations.

But chairman Jenny Hollingsbee said the report would be "very useful" in future.

She added: "The work on this report will not be wasted. I think we will be going back to the proposals in future."

The Independent Remuneration Panel on members' allowances and expenses recommended a new system that would have meant an average 6.7 per cent rise, and even bigger increases for some councillors.

Under the proposals, the consolidated basic allowance for all backbenchers would have risen from £4,098 to £4,500 – a 10 per cent increase.

A cabinet member would have received £9,000 instead of the present £8,807 – a rise of 2.1 per cent.

A committee chairman's allowance would have gone up from £3,956 to £4,500 – a 13 per cent increase.

There would have been a £6,750 allowance for opposition leader Brian Copping, and a 7 per cent cut – £21,245 to £19,800 - for leader Robert Bliss.

At a meeting on Thursday, the council agreed the report should be noted, with all councillors voting in favour, except People First councillors Brian Copping and Paul Marsh, who abstained.

Councillor Copping said: "The leader of the opposition only gets a small group allowance and it is now apparent that he will have to do the job for nothing.

"It seems morally wrong that somebody on this council does a job for nothing while everybody else gets something for doing nothing."

Lib Dem councillor Lynne Beaumont, who could not attend the meeting because of illness, claimed the Tory-dominated district council had "cynically" postponed accepting the allowance increases until after the May Kent County Council elections.

She said: "The Tory party machine obviously realised that awarding themselves big pay rises wouldn't have gone down well with the electors. It would have been shameful at a time of austerity and cuts."

One councillor, who asked not to be named, said: "Because of the proposed reduction in the number of councillors from 46 to 30, from May 2015, it now looks as though we will not see any change before then, some seven years since the previous increase.

"At that time, there will be a very strong argument in favour of a very substantial increase, partly to compensate for the large increase in workloads of every councillor."

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