WILTSHIRE councillors have turned down a five per cent rise in their allowances.

While it was recommended that councillors vote on a 4.82 per cent allowance rise the rise will instead be linked with the rises seen in council (public sector) staff – around 1.5 per cent.

However, they did vote to include the carer’s allowance which would be paid at cost up to a maximum rate of £30 per hour or at the national minimum wage if care is given by friends or family, as proposed.

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The recommended rise was made by the Independent Remuneration Panel – made up of members of the public.

Members of the panel must consider giving councillors “reasonable compensation” for their duties and cannot take into account the financial impact on the council itself. Leader of the council, Richard Clewer said: “The proposals would increase the remuneration by 5.5 per cent and in a year where the NHS are currently looking at a one per cent increase and our staff are looking at a two per cent increase, I really don’t think it’s appropriate for us to be taking an increase above that.

“For the last eight years, we’ve linked councillor remuneration increases to staff increases and I think that is the appropriate thing to do.”

Cllr Jon Hubbard, made the recommendation that councillors reject the increase in allowance but keep the recommended changes for special responsibility allowances (SRAs).

SRAs are awarded to councillors who chair committees and lead political groups. Some of those positions would see an increase while others, such as group leaders, would see a drop in pay.

At debate the amendment was criticised by councillors with Cllr Paul Sample saying that if Cllr Hubbard took this to his electorate, then he would be voted down.

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Cllr Hubbard rejected this, and said that he would give any rise to a local charity and would be transparent with those who he represents.

At a vote the amendment was voted down with councillors voting overwhelmingly against and only two voting in favour.

Cllr Christopher Newbury then proposed the amendment that council should reject the rise but include the carer allowance aspect. This "friendly amendment" was accepted by the original proposer Cllr Ian Blair-Pilling and councillors voted unanimously for.