Leader wants to make public those county councillors who agree to 1.2 per cent allowance cut in solidarity with staff forced to take unpaid leave over Christmas.

PUBLISHED: 17:36 03 December 2018 | UPDATED: 17:37 03 December 2018

Cllr Steve Count thinks he's on the right track with a 'gesture of unity' to those 1,800 county council staff forced into taking three days unpaid leave at Christmas. Picture: JOHN ELWORTHY

Cllr Steve Count thinks he's on the right track with a 'gesture of unity' to those 1,800 county council staff forced into taking three days unpaid leave at Christmas. Picture: JOHN ELWORTHY

Archant

County council leader Steve Count is to name and shame any of his 61 councillors who decline to hand back 1.2 per cent of their allowances in solidarity with employees forced to lose three days pay over Christmas.

Those taking the cut will have their names published on the county council website – leaving the public to work out for themselves those who didn’t agree.

Nearly 1,900 staff earning over £25,000 a year will be forced to take what amounts to a pay cut in a bid to save the council £900,000.

Cllr Count will table a motion to full council next week prefacing it with the remark that “we as councillors should not be exempted from the personal financial implications”.

Originally it was thought Cllr Count would only ask the nine councillors with allowances in excess of £25,000 to take part.

Like employees he will ask the allowance cut to be spread over a 12 month period and he wants the voting to be recorded “and that a vote for this motion is a voluntary request to reduce the allowance as outlined”.

Cllr Count’s motion adds that a vote against or an abstention would be “assumed to be no voluntary reduction” and “ that any councillors wishing their vote to a treated differently and for those not present should notify democratic services within one week if their wish to take a 1.2 per cent reduction”.

He says that “for the sake of transparency, democratic services will publish on our website those councillors who have agreed to a voluntary reduction in their allowances”, allowing, of course, the public to work out those that declined the invitation.

The Tory run authority will also debate a second motion from Councillor Sandra Crawford (Labour) to reinstate the three days pay being deducted from staff.

She will argue that staff have already had a “real terms” pay cut of 18 per cent since 2010 and that as well as scrapping the three days unpaid leave, staff should be written to and thanked for their efforts and hard work this year.

Cllr Crawford said: “We in the Labour Party support the living wage and staff should be paid as they are contracted. Many staff with rising rents and mortgages and children to look after, especially at Christmas, cannot afford to lose the pay. Many already cannot cope with the rising cost of living which with additional pay cuts will cause difficulties for them and their families.”

Councillor Joan Whitehead, leader of the Labour group on the council, said: “It is categorically not the case that all councillors support the punitive measures enforced by this Conservative administration as it continues to fail to cope with the consequences of its own austerity policies.

“This administration not only awarded its own councillors large increases in allowances last year, but it continues to support large increases in staff costs at the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Combined Authority Mayor’s office (upwards of £7m at the last look).

“Gestures of the kind advocated by the Conservative administration’s motion are as empty as they are hypocritical, especially considering that their proposals for councillors to ‘not be exempt’ are voluntary, while staff were given no choice on whether to take the pay cut”.

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