Anger at 24% rise in councillor pay

Opposition parties have hit out at plans to increase councillor allowances at a time when 350 council jobs are at risk.

Labour members on North Tyneside Council voted through the 24 per cent rise at a full council meeting last Thursday following a recommendation from the Independent Remuneration Panel.

But Conservative members have slammed the move at a time when the authority could cut 350 jobs.

Group leader Coun Judith Wallace said: “For the Labour group to vote to increase their own allowance, at the same time that it is laying off a further 350 local people, is outrageous.

“Local people will be furious that their Labour councillors think that lining their own pockets is more important than retaining jobs and local services.”

Liberal Democrat councillor David Ord said the rise in allowances had been recommended in each of the last five years and always rejected while the rise will result in a bigger increase in future years.

Members of the Panel had recommended the increase as they had been concerned for a number of years at the low level of allowance in the organisation, resulting in the role only being enticing to the retired or financially secure.

A council spokesperson said: “This change is in accordance with the recommendations of the Independent Remuneration Panel which carried out detailed research and found that the basic allowance in North Tyneside is significantly lower than other regional and national allowances.

“There has been no increase in the basic allowance to North Tyneside councillors since April 2009 and the Independent Panel say these changes are necessary to help bring North Tyneside allowances closer to those elsewhere.

“The recommendations are also considered appropriate given their responsibilities and the many hours councillors spend working on behalf of residents.

“The Panel – made up of four independent people with a wealth of experience in business, finance and local government – has previously commented that the level of allowances is too low and could impact on the authority’s ability to recruit and retain people to serve as councillors.”