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City of York councillors reject rise in allowances
COUNCILLORS in York have turned down pay rises of almost £2,600 a year – but admitted their allowances will have to be looked at again in the future.
An Independent Remuneration Panel set up to scrutinise the amounts City of York Council’s 47 elected representatives receive in their public roles recommended their annual basic pay should be increased from £7,192.50 to £9,777.28, and also said “special responsibility allowances” for many positions should rise.
But the proposals were voted down at a full meeting of the authority after councillors said a backdrop of budget cuts and wage freezes for council staff, as well as the need to save £19.7 million over two years, meant they could not top up their own pay.
Agreeing to the recommendations of the panel – which had said York’s allowances were lower than those at similar-sized authorities and other Yorkshire councils – would have cost an additional £173,870 a year.
Council leader James Alexander said: “Most of the country is in a difficult financial situation, including our staff, and it is the wrong time to take an increase in allowances – as councillors, we have to set an example.
“However, there has to be some consensus that this will need to be addressed at some point in the future, because one of the concerns is how we try to bring in younger councillors and open up the local democratic base.”
Conservative group leader Coun Ian Gillies said he believed councillors of all parties in York were “undervalued”.
He saidd: “I appreciate the work of the panel, but it would have been unfair to accept an increase at this time.”
Coun Carol Runciman, who leads the Liberal Democrats, said a rise in allowances should not be agreed “in the current climate with staff pay being frozen”, while Green group leader Coun Andy D’Agorne agreed it was an inappropriate time for an increase but the council would have to “face up to it at some stage”.
“I feel we could have made a modest increase to the basic allowance by some redistribution from those enjoying special responsibility allowances.
“I realise I am probably only one voice on this, but I almost feel like I am speaking for the younger councillors.”