Councillors’ pay row continues

Peter Box after announcing budget proposals' 'LOCATION:  Wakefield Town Hall
Peter Box after announcing budget proposals' 'LOCATION: Wakefield Town Hall

COUNCILLORS who put less time and effort into their role should have their allowances slashed, political leaders agreed this week.

At Wednesday’s meeting, a motion was carried for Wakefield Council to ask the independent remuneration panel, which sets members’ allowances, to “consider how it should deal with those members who are not properly fulfilling their responsibilites.”

It was an amendment to a motion originally proposed by Conservative group leader Coun Mark Crowther to encourage councillors to volunteer a five per cent cut to their allowance to save a total of £50,000.

Coun Peter Box proposed the amendment saying it could save more money than taking cuts across the board.

He said: “It can’t be right that somebody who attends 40 meetings a year is on the same as someone who attends four.

“It may well be that we could save more than £50,000 if the panel were to decide that three or four councillors aren’t fulfilling their responsibility and should get nothing.”

But Coun Box said Coun Crowther’s call for a universal five per cent cut was an attack on the independent panel and an attempt to score political points.

He also said it would be less fair on hard-working members.

He said: “I am proud of the fact that in Wakefield we don’t choose our allowances and this is the way it should stay. People don’t expect councillors to be involved in their own allowances.”

Coun Crowther agreed councillors should be penalised for being less active but said all members should still volunteer a cut.

He said: “I believe most of the Conservative councillors who were at the meeting have already written to volunteer a cut and I will encourage the others to do it. These are allowances, it is not a wage or salary, so I don’t see why we can’t all take a cut. Allowances are not something members should rely on to live.

“We are not attacking the panel but just feel we should go beyond their recommendation.”

Ian Brown, chairman of the remuneration panel, announced that allowances would be frozen for the coming year.

He said many councillors had to work unsociable hours and lost sleep due to their role.

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