20th Sep, 2019

Tory councillors look to approve pay rises of up to 326 per cent in Redditch

Harry Leach 14th Feb, 2019 Updated: 14th Feb, 2019

TORY councillors look set to approve pay rises of up to 326 per cent for all members of Redditch Borough Council.

Plans to increase allowances paid to councillors for 2019/2020 were discussed at the authority’s executive meeting on Tuesday, February 5.

Conservative Councillors voted in favour of giving elected members their first pay rise in ten years.

Labour representatives on the committee, Couns Greg Chance (Central) and Bill Hartnett (Church Hill) abstained.

If approved at full council on February 25 the borough’s leader Coun Matt Dormer (Con, West)will pocket an extra £6,614 a year – a 98 per cent increase.

Coun David Bush, (Con, West) deputy leader of the council, will receive an extra £3,068, a 65 per cent increase, while portfolio holders – those with special responsibilities – will get an extra £5,096 – a staggering 326 per cent increase.

All other members will receive an increase in excess of £1,000.

Altogether the measure will put an extra £60,000 on the council’s budget.

“It’s fair to say we haven’t had a pay rise for long time,” said Coun Bush, who admitted to voting against the measure in previous years.

“But if we want to attract fresh, young and inspiring councillors we need to be able to offer them a way of living.

“Some people may look at this as a full-time job and I think it’s only right that we encourage that way of thinking.”

Other local authorities such as Bromsgrove, Malvern, Wychavon and Worcester give their councillors considerably more in allowances.

Bromsgrove District Council spends £140,000 while Malvern Hills District Council pays out £159,000.

In comparison, Redditch Borough Council spends only £95,000.

Labour leader Coun Bill Hartnett, who voted against a pay rise when in power, said after the meeting: “The argument the Conservatives are using is that it will get more people interested in becoming a councillor.

“But not everyone will become a council leader, portfolio holder or deputy.

“I don’t see this as a good option at a time when council tax is rising.

“We should be looking at ways to make it work from our existing budget and be spending the money we have on better things elsewhere.

“In previous years when I voted against the pay rise, Tory councillors agreed with me when it was put to the vote but now they’re in power they have decided to go for it.”

However Coun Dormer said: “We would not have voted for a pay rise had the previous administration not frozen it for 10 years.

“Every year we employ outside consultants to look at this and every year they say increase, increase, and each year we’ve said no. Well this year we’ve said yes.

“To me it’s not a pay rise it’s an allowance which brings us into line with other councils.”

Proposed increases:

Basic Allowance – all Councillors recommended £4,437 Current: £3,350

Special Responsibility Allowances:

Leader: Recommended £13,311 Current £6,697 plus £1,560 for being a portfolio holder

Deputy Leader: Recommended: £7,765 Current £4,697 plus £1,560 for being a portfolio holder.

Portfolio holders: Recommended £6,656 Current: £1,560

Chair of Overview and Scrutiny: Recommended: £6,656 Current: £2,009

Chair of Planning Committee: Recommended: £4,437 Current: £1,560

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