Acting leader of the opposition calls councillors' allowances hike 'unjust'

Acting leader of the opposition calls councillors' allowances hike 'unjust'

David Lee

The acting leader of the opposition in the Royal Borough has called the decision of the ruling Conservatives to increase councillors’ allowances ‘unjust’.

The Royal Borough agreed to increase the members’ allowance budget for 2015/16 by £43,219 at its first full council meeting since the election on Tuesday, with only the three members of the opposition opposing the motion.  

The proposals will see a special responsibility allowance (SRA) handed to three new principal members of the Royal Borough cabinet at a cost of £31,005 per year to recognise their ‘additional responsibilities’. The rest of the extra cash will be paid to five other councillors in newly created positions.

The total spend on allowances for the next year will be £656,000.

But Cllr Malcolm Beer (Ind, Old Windsor) told the Advertiser and Express the increase in allowances could have been better spent on improving crucial services.

He said: “In this day and age when they’re making people redundant by the dozen it’s unjust. This money would pay for a couple of much needed social workers.

“The point is they’re just spreading around their duties and still getting paid extra money.”

SRA allowances will be awarded to three principal members. They are Cllr George Bathurst (Con, Sunninghill and South Ascot), who has responsibility for policy; Cllr Paul Brimacombe (Con, Cox Green) in charge of transformation and performance; and Cllr Claire Stretton (Con, Boyn Hill) who has the culture and communities brief.

The chairman of the borough’s new policy committee will also receive £4,698 while an additional four deputy lead members will be granted an extra allowance of £1,879 each.

Cllr David Evans (Con, Hurley and Walthams) told the meeting the rise in allowances was justified considering the Royal Borough’s shopkeeper ‘Thatcherite’ approach to running local government.

He said: “We in this authority under the leadership of Cllr David Burbage have quite unambiguously chosen the shopkeeper model. With that, is the consequence of wanting to get more councillors involved. But I think it will be good value. We are the Thatcherite, shopkeeper local authority and I’m proud of that.”

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