Top Welwyn Hatfield councillors under attack for raising their own allowances

PUBLISHED: 08:04 19 February 2017 | UPDATED: 09:52 19 February 2017

Cllr Kieran Thorpe

Cllr Kieran Thorpe

Archant

If top councillors need to save money, they should start by refusing substantial rises in their own allowances, according to opposition critics.

Following recommendations by an independent panel, the borough council will increase the allowances paid to cabinet members and committee chairpersons by between 58 per cent and 68 percent in 2017/18, while back-bench councillors will get one per cent extra.

A Labour motion to restrict all the increases to one per cent was supported by the Lib Dems, but voted down.

Labour leader Kieran Thorpe told the Welwyn Hatfield Times: “With no end to tough times and tough decisions, it is shocking that in one budget the Conservatives propose deep cuts to frontline services and council tax increases, but still think it acceptable to hand themselves pay rises.”

A council spokeswoman responded: “Councillors do not receive a salary, but an allowance for time spent performing council duties on behalf of all residents. This enables people from all backgrounds to take part in local politics and encourages a council more representative of the population.

“The changes to members’ allowances followed a report from independent consultants, including comparison with other Hertfordshire authorities.

This identified that allowances in Welwyn Hatfield were significantly lower in some cases, and higher in others. That report was carried out seven years ago, in 2009, and did not implement any changes until July this year.

““The allowances are now more consistent with the county average, reflecting the key role councillors play in our communities.”

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