Labour Group Statement on Full Council Proceedings - 13/10/2015
The Labour group are delighted to have helped reach a more appropriate arrangement for councillor catering, with the Conservative group finally relinquishing the year round, member’s dining service. The news comes after a sustained period of lobbying and will look to make an annual saving of over £22,000.
It is disappointing however, that in the same motion, despite a bi-partisan effort from both the Labour and Liberal Democrat groups, the Conservative led council voted to dismiss the findings of a fair and independent remunerations panel. The panel report proposed a comprehensive review of member allowances, making significant further savings and bringing the authority in line with similarly budgeted councils elsewhere.
While claiming to follow the ‘broad thrust’ of the findings, the conservative group instead offered a substantially altered motion, including an increase in the special responsibilities allowance of senior council members amounting to over £33,000 pa. Among the rises was an increase in the Leader’s allowance from £65,000 to £66,000, and the deputy leader’s allowance from £51,625 to £54,000.
In rejecting efforts to rebalance, the Conservative group have voted to exacerbate the existing, top-heavy allowances system, and further distinguished Essex from other, more progressive authorities. The Labour group have long been campaigning for a review of special responsibility allowances, even proposing alterations to the 2014/2015 budget. It was disheartening to see the very reasonable findings of the panel dismissed so unanimously.