Tuesday July 18 - or hence forward known as ‘Fat Cat Tuesday’ - as county councillors vote themselves massive pay rises

PUBLISHED: 16:25 18 July 2017 | UPDATED: 17:20 18 July 2017

County council leader Steve Count

County council leader Steve Count

Archant

Tory leader Steve Count blamed exclusion from last year of councillors from the local government pension scheme as one reason for proposing allowances much bigger than those recommended by an independent panel.

The shock move by the Tory controlled council to agree an amendment – configured during secret sessions – was revealed by Cllr Count in a press release five minutes before today’s full meeting of the council.

As council leader his pay will rise to £31,745 a year with the deputy leader being paid £20,627 a year.

Only one Tory refused to vote for the rise – Wisbech mayor Steve Tierney who abstained. One source tells me the Conservative group was subject to a three line whip and had Cllr Tierney voted against, rather than abstain, he could have been suspended from the group.

Cllr Count said the increase in allowances proposed by the independent panel would have meant each councillor getting an immediate increase of 8.4 per cent “rising to 21 per cent increase by the end of the four year term to make the scheme fairer”.

The panel had agreed that the current rate of basic allowance is too low and was not at a level that would allow councillors to make the time commitment required.

This was “particularly now there are fewer councillors, larger electoral divisions and rapidly increasing populations within many divisions.”

But the panel also said considered whether the current financial and economic climate should inform its recommendations and decided that this was an important factor, and the public would quite rightly expect it to form part of the panel’s considerations.

Under the proposals they put forward councillors would have received £8.600 a year (from the current £7,933.32) and would have seen the annual allowances budget drop from £836,316 to £751,500.

That has now changed with Cllr Count costing the new scheme at £936,726 – he said the previous figure was in reality £859,840 to take account of pension contributions.

Had the county accepted their independent panel’s view, the council leader would have seen his pay rise from £21,000 a year to £25,000. The panel concluded that the leader’s extra responsibilities in terms of the portfolio post he also occupies in the new combined authority headed by the mayor. The authority pays no allowances to elected members.

Cllr Count said “We acknowledge the difficult task set for the Independent Remuneration Panel.

“Regrettably we feel unable to accept the recommendations which we feel do not meet the requirements of the guidance, particularly in relation to ensuring that councillors do not suffer significant financial loss as a result of undertaking the role. “In that regard it is the duty of the Panel to clearly recognise and base their decision on the time commitment that councillors make, week in week out, and we really feel that this just hasn’t happened.”

He added: “Elected councillors spend an average of 20 to 30 hours per week carrying out their duties, for which they currently receive a basic allowance in Cambridgeshire of just over £7,933 per annum, the lowest in the country.”

7 comments

  • Dear "The Truth", who is not brave enough to put a real name: Please CHECK my voting record and history. I have never EVER supported a rise in allowances, on any Council, for as long as I've been a Councillor. So you can take you "is this because of a by-election" and stick it. I abstained because I think this personal issue should be up to individual Councillors to decide. I decided - I don't want it. And I will be giving it all away if we do get it. Please do feel free to suggest a LOCAL cause that could benefit.

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    Steve Tierney

    Friday, July 21, 2017

  • The TUC for a couple of years now has used the slogan: ‘Britain needs a pay rise’. I never thought that the Conservative Councillors on Cambs County Council would take the TUC’s advice literally, and award themselves an inflation-busting pay rise of 30%, over £2000 a year. As the GMB union says: local government workers have had a cut in real wages of 14.3% since 2010. This cut in real wages is a direct result of the ruling classes around the world putting the burden of the 2008 financial crash onto the shoulders of working class people. Local government workers are right to put in a claim for a pay rise of £1200 or 5% to recoup some of what has been lost since 2010. If an inflation-busting pay rise is good enough for our councillors, it is good enough for local government workers. JOHN SMITHEE Wisbech

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    John Smithee

    Friday, July 21, 2017

  • abstaining - absolutely pathetic in my opinion!, has this got anything to do with a local up-coming by-election in Wisbech?

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    TheTruth

    Thursday, July 20, 2017

  • Well done Steve Tierney, I hope that the opposition councillors will also take your stance and either refuse to accept this extra money, or give it away to a good cause as you have promised to do.

    Report this comment

    contramundum

    Wednesday, July 19, 2017

  • Please see my blog entry or the online video of the debate for my full position. I did speak against the motion, abstain, and say that I would not keep a penny of any extra money that was awarded, and I will not. I will publicly give the rise in allowances to a local charity of my resident's choice, every month. Actions speak louder than words. I will be watching the opposition members who spoke and voted against the motion to see if they also refuse to take, or give away the extra monies they spoke so passionately against.

    Report this comment

    Steve Tierney

    Wednesday, July 19, 2017

  • Well said, contramundum. Having been a Cambridgeshire County Councillor and an East Cambridgeshire District Councillor myself and having heard people say - then - that County and District Councillors were 'only in for themselves' (and not believing that in those times) I now agree with the critics. With a few notable exceptions, it appears that they - Cambridgeshire County Councillors and East Cambridgeshire District Councillors - are only in it for themselves. With a few notable exceptions, they are troughers - those with their snouts in the trough. (As it happens, I love pigs).

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    Geoffrey Woollard

    Wednesday, July 19, 2017

  • This is absolutely disgusting. Other public service workers and pensioners have been subject to a 1 percent cap on pay for a decade; their pay is decided for them unlike these councillors who can vote themselves a huge pay rise. As to the Tories putting a whip on it compounds their felony and reinforces many people's view that they are completely out of touch with the ordinary people of Cambridgeshire. Well done to Steve Tierney for abstaining, it would have been even better if he had had the courage to vote against this measure. It really is time for the people of Cambridgeshire to sit up and take notice of the sort of money grabbing, self centred, smug , leeches that run the county. I don't know how they can sleep at night, obviously no consciences. Remember this next time your local school, road, fire station etc cannot have any money spent on it because of the cutbacks.

    Report this comment

    contramundum

    Wednesday, July 19, 2017

The views expressed in the above comments do not necessarily reflect the views of this site

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