“CON” JURING TRICK?
How do you get around the recommendations of an independent panel that has the job of deciding the right levels of Councillors allowances?
Yesterday, I raised a question about the allowances of Cabinet members at New Forest District Council.
Cabinet members receive an extra allowance in recognition of the work they do beyond that of a “back bench” Councillor.
For a long time, there have been only six Tory Cabinet members.
However, at about the same time as the review of allowances was carried out, the Tory Leader decided that he would increase the size of his Cabinet from six members to eight members.
Personally, I doubt that the increase is justified.
If anything, the work New Forest District Council does has decreased in recent years, not increased.
However, I accept that the Leader has the right to choose the size of his Cabinet.
The bit that I did have an issue with is that there is no recommendation that the Special allowance paid to each member of the Cabinet be reduced, reflecting the fact that their individual workload has been shared out, now reduced by some 25%.
The Leader responded by saying that he had told the Remuneration Panel, privately, that he was increasing the size of his Cabinet and insists that there is no need to refer back to them to ask whether they think it fair and reasonable that all the Cabinet members receive what is effectively a very generous settlement.
Of course, he was backed up by his Vice Chairman who claimed that it was impractical to ask the panel to reconsider whether it was fair and reasonable for the Cabinet members to still receive a Special Responsibility Allowance of £9,798 whilst doing about 25% less work.
I don’t agree.
I think the Conservatives are putting their own interests above that of the taxpayer.
Where else would you get a situation where your boss says “Hi there, I want you to do 25% less, but I am still going to pay you the same rate”.
In the interests of you, the taxpayer, I am going to pursue this. I cannot think of a reason why I personally cannot refer this back to the Independent Remuneration Panel, even if the Conservatives refuse to do so.
If I am successful, I will have saved you taxpayers about £20,000 a year.
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At the last meeting of New Forest District Council, I was the only member of the Council who challenged them over their terrible record on recycling.