A ‘SUBSTANTIAL’ increase in Stratford district councillor allowances has sparked concern.
Councillors have voted through recommendations to raise their ‘special responsibility allowances’ (SRA).
A review by the Independent Remuneration Panel found current levels did not meet increasing responsibilities and workloads on councillors in the district, particularly with a higher number of planning applications giving rise to more meetings.
The increase was disputed by Liberal Democrats due to ‘constraints on public sector employees pay’, but the panel argued an employee taking on more responsibility or having their contract hours increased would expect a pay increase.
Panelists called district council leader Tony Jefferson’s SRA, of just over £10,800, a ‘glaring anomaly’ considering the demands of the role which included an increasing number of external engagements with stakeholders. It was agreed to increase the leader’s SRA by nearly £4,000.
Deputy leader Daren Pemberton’s current SRA of just over £5,410 will increase by some £2,200 because he attended more key meetings alongside the leader.
Other portfolio holders’ SRA will increase by around £1,500 to nearly £6,900.
Liberal Democrat Susan Juned believed the increases were ‘inappropriate’ and, as minority opposition group leader, has refused an SRA increase of around £375.
She told the Observer: “When I stood to be a councillor I wasn’t expecting a raise and felt it wasn’t appropriate. There are people that are having a tough time at the moment and when the council is also experiencing potential financial problems and cuts to its budget it just didn’t seem right.”
She also believed it contradicted recent proposals to introduce a charge for collection of green waste of £40 due to financial pressures at the council.
The Alcester ward councillor added: “At the moment this is free and I suspect many residents will be unhappy at this charge at the same time as councillors’ special responsibility allowances are increasing at such a rate.”