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York councillors to reject ‘pay’ rise
COUNCILLORS in York are set to reject annual pay rises of almost £2,600.
Last month, an independent panel set up to review the amounts paid to elected representatives said basic allowances for York’s 47 councillors should be increased from £7,192.50 to £9,777.28.
It also suggested “special responsibility allowances”, paid to holders of numerous roles such as committee chairs or cabinet posts, should rise.
All three main political parties have said they will turn them down the panel’s recommendations when they meet next Thursday at a full meeting of the council.
City of York Council needs to save £19.7 million over two years.
A report to next week’s meeting said the additional cost in terms of allowances if the recommendations were approved would be £173,870 a year, although the “flat rate” amount for providing councillors with internet and telephone access would fall by £4,560.
Labour council leader James Alexander said: “The independent remuneration panel recognised that councillor allowances in York are less than most other authorities, at a time of increasing workload and responsibility.
“However, Labour recognises the difficult situation council services are in, due to reductions in Government funding, and that many hardworking families across York are also struggling. We will therefore not be accepting the recommended increases.”
Conservative councillor Sian Wiseman said her party was grateful to the panel “for their time and the content of the report”, but she said: “As a group, we have voted to reject the proposed increase on the grounds it would be inappropriate to accept such an increase at this time, due to the current state of council finances.”
She said the Conservatives also believed the number of cabinet posts should be reduced from eight to five, in line with the number of directorates, and said the overall number of councillors should be reduced.
Liberal Democrat group leader Carol Runciman said pay rises for councillors would be “inappropriate in the current economic climate” among public and private sector pay freezes.
She said: “We need a system which recognises the work of local councillors but provides value for money for the taxpayer, but these recommendations do not achieve that balance and our group will reject them.”
Coun Andy D’Agorne, who leads the council’s Green group, said he wanted to see what other parties proposed on the issue at next week’s meeting.