Five county councillors - fresh from 30 per cent rise in allowances - set to receive extra £5,000 a year as ‘community champions’
PUBLISHED: 16:18 11 August 2017 | UPDATED: 18:10 11 August 2017
Five county councillors – fresh from enjoying their 30 per cent rise in allowances – are set to get an extra £5,000 a year.
The money will be paid on top of the new basic allowance of £10,315 as opposed to £8,600 recommended by an independent review panel.
The decision to appoint them as ‘area community champions’ was one of the little reported elements of leader Steve Count’s bulldozing through of a new package of payments last month.
The five are expected to be Lina Joseph, South Cambs (Con); David Wells, Huntingdon (Con); Elisa Meschini, Cambridge (Lab); Steve Tierney, Wisbech/Fenland (Con) and Lis Every, Ely/East Cambs (Con). A council spokesman said the new area champions had yet to be announced but would be officially appointed by the communities and partnership committee on August 24.
Cllr Count criticised the independent remuneration panel for refusing to recommend an extra responsibility allowance for the area champions.
The panel said it had not recommended extra for these posts since the job descriptions were not available at the time they met.
The panel concluded that “this should not be interpreted as a rejection of those roles rather we did not feel we had received sufficient information or evidence to enable us to have the confidence to form a recommendation.”
They said they were up to re-considering these roles “once they have been established for some time”.
But Cllr Count said it was “unfortunate the panel has taken this approach to the speed at which information was made available”.
He said officers were available and more information was to hand when the panel met.
Cllr Count said: “It is not appropriate to ask councillors to take on significant extra duties and then be ‘established for some time’ before considering potential financial hardship”.
“Therefore this council believes this is also at odds with the guidance and that the duties ascribed to this role fall between that of a regulatory chair and a minor party opposition leader.”
Cllr Count said elected councillors spend an average of 20 to 30 hours per week carrying out their duties, and until the changes received a basic allowance in Cambridgeshire of just over £7,933 per annum, the lowest in the country.
The leader told councillors that the independent panel’s report was “fundamentally flawed” and could not therefore command respect.