AN INDEPENDENT panel has recommended awarding inflation-busting pay rises to recognise the dedication and achievements of a council’s leaders.

An Independent Remuneration Panel, which all local authorities are required to establish to advise on allowances for councillors, has also proposed members of Hambleton District Council’s planning committee be given an extra financial reward.

Following interviews with councillors and officers, the panel found the Conservative-run authority’s leader, Cllr Mark Robson, and his deputy, Cllr Peter Wilkinson were receiving too little compensation for the roles’ “demands, and their work, achievement and effort”.

The three-member panel has recommended Cllr Robson’s leader’s allowance rises from £24,200 to £36,300 and Cllr Wilkinson’s deputy allowance rises by £6,050 to £18,150.

The panel, which included leading businessmen, has stipulated the rises are specifically for those councillors and should the authority’s leadership change, the allowances should be lowered again.

It has also proposed, due to the volume of work involved, the ten planning committee members be awarded allowances of £1,500, its chairman £9,075 and its vice-chairman £6,050.

The panel’s report stated: “The lead theme that emerged during all interviews was how heavily tasked and committed the council’s planning committee was in executing its day-to-day business.”

The councillors can also claim a basic allowance of £6,050, which stands at £1,700 more than it did five years ago.

When asked why he believed the panel had come to the conclusions, Cllr Robson said: “That’s their prerogative. We are one of the lowest council tax authorities in the country, we are not cutting services and are dealing with multi-million pound projects. The workload is massive. Even if the council does approve these increases each individual member chooses whether to take it or not.”