Last night I did something that I thought only MPs did (and even then most of them felt uncomfortable about doing)… I voted on my own pay.
There is an Independent Panel which meets to give recommendations as to how much all councillors should get paid and then what “special responsibility allowance” should be paid for holders of certain jobs – for example the Chairman of Development Control or the Leader of the Opposition (Graham Longley) get extra allowances for the not inconsiderable amount of extra time they have to put in due to the offices that they hold.
Whilst I feel that some of the recommendations of the panel were a tad odd, how can you do anything but support what an Independent Panel suggests? I’d love to set my own pay at my daytime work, (if my boss is reading I think I’m underpaid by about 200%! 🙂 ) but it really isn’t right.
I was most displeased to see that some of the most vocal opposition was coming from Independent Party Leader Martin Terry and Liberal Democrat Leader Graham Longley… The former was at least arguing for an overall reduction where as the latter was arguing for an overall increase (albeit not too strongly). Neither of them (nor the Leader of the Labour Group Ian Gilbert who also argued for an overall reduction), once mentioned 3 of the winners in the recommendations – THEM!! Each of them is receiving a pay rise of 6.6% (whilst the Leader gets a pay cut and the Executive Councillors’ allowance is frozen). It seems a bit much to talk about cutting allowances whilst then voting for a rise (or doing the typical Lib Dem thing and abstaining – don’t sit on the fence, make a decision!)
I have and will continue to claim the allowance (frozen last night) that is due to me. I will not claim any expenses for carrying out my duties as a ward councillor nor on behalf of the council unless I can justify it to you – my employer. (If I drive 400 miles or get a train/plane then it seems reasonable to claim for the cheapest mode of travel possible). Like last night, I will always vote in favour of the Independent Panel’s recommendation unless I can clearly see a glaring error – I might disagree with some of their recommendations, but where they have written several paragraphs justifying their recommendation I feel it is wrong to ignore/override them.