County councillors reject £250k pay hike

Lincolnshire County Council has voted against a £250,000 increase to its councillors’ remuneration package.

Councillors’ allowances have been frozen for the next two years, following the decision at the council’s Annual General Meeting on May 20.

Instead the £250,000 will be given to local charities and local community initiatives.

The proposed increase was suggested in a 2010 report by the Independent Remuneration Panel.

If the package was approved, councillors would have seen their annual basic allowance increased 22.2% — from £8,511 to £10,400.

Senior councillors had told the Lincolnshire Echo that they would reject the proposals.

After the vote, Cllr Martin Hill, Leader of Lincolnshire County Council, told the chamber that in the current economic climate the council must show leadership: “At this particular time I don’t think any of us would look our employees, or indeed our service users, in the face and say ‘sorry, we’ve got to make difficult decisions here, but either way we’re exempt from that’.”

He referred to the issue of members’ allowances as a “difficult and awkward discussion” and said he is “fed up” of having it every year, which is why it will be frozen for two years.

Cllr Robert Parker, the Leader of the Labour group on the County Council, suggested that, although he agreed with rejecting the rise in allowances given the current circumstances, the council is “putting off” the decision.

Cllr Christine Talbot, the Conservative county councillor for Bracebridge Heath and Waddington, suggested that members’ allowances should be set completely independently, rather than councillors having to vote on their own remuneration package.

The council’s Chief Executive, Tony McArdle, told Cllr Talbot that the council is “obliged in law” to decide the remuneration for councillors.

Cllr Talbot said that it was something that the council “perhaps could lobby for” because “it is morally wrong for us to vote on what we think we are worth”.

Speaking to The Lincolnite outside the meeting, John Sharman, Branch Secretary of Unison who began start industrial action against redundancies at the council, said: “I don’t think there should have been any question … to even consider vast increases to councillors’ allowances at a time when their staff are in the second year of a three-year pay freeze, and when they are going to make something in region of 1,200 people redundant.”