A MOVE to foil increases in Wiltshire councillors’ allowances of up to 40 per cent has been defeated by Conservative and Liberal Democrat members.
The vote means all councillors are entitled to a one per cent rise, Cabinet members are entitled to 22 per cent, while Wiltshire Council leader Jane Scott Scott’s entitlements rise by nearly 40 per cent a year from £37,335 to £52,227.
However, Cllr Scott has declined the increases, which included £9,216 for chairing a new health and wellbeing board, saying the allowances controversy has been too distracting.
The rules have also been changed to allow chairmen of two committees to collect the full allowances for each.
A total of 60 members voted against the Independents’ motion to scrap the increases and six abstained, while 24 voted in favour.
After the meeting, Labour councillor Ricky Rogers, from Salisbury, who voted for the motion, said: “I share the public outrage on this issue. The cabinet members should not be taking this huge increase in one go when people are struggling with bills. They should have been phased in over a number of years.”
Cllr Rogers said he will only be taking the recommended one per cent increase in his basic allowance of £12,167 and a one per cent increase in his existing £5,034 allowance as chairman of the Salisbury Area Board. This had been set to go up to £6,912.
Cllr Richard Clewer, the portfolio holder for housing, who represents the St Paul’s Ward in Salisbury, said he believed the increases had to go ahead. His allowances will increase from £17,830 to £19,201.
He said: “I work about 55 hours a week on council business, so this brings it up to more than the minimum wage. I understand the concerns people have, but we don’t want councillors to be drawn solely from the retired or the independently wealthy.”
The Independent councillors Terry Chivers and Jeff Osborn, who proposed the motion that the increases be scrapped, have vowed to fight on. Liberal Democrat leader Cllr Jon Hubbard said he was siding with the Tories even though he voted against the increases last November, but abstained from the final vote.
It was necessary to make the job attractive to younger people, he said.
Cllr Chris Devine, Conservative said: “I voted for the increase and I will vote for it again. I am proud of this council. “We are worth it and we do a very good job.”
The council also received a 2,673 signature anti-increases petition from taxpayer Paul Gaunt.