Coun­cil­lors could vote them­selves more money as city faces cuts in ser­vices with spend­ing set to be slashed by mil­lions of pounds

The Peterborough Evening Telegraph - - Front Page - By StephenBriggs stephen.briggs@ pe­ter­bor­oughto­day.co.uk Twit­ter: @ PTstephenB 01733 588734

City coun­cil­lors are to vote on plans to in­crease their pay by 12 per cent as the author­ity con­sid­ers cut­ting ser­vices to fill a £ 10mil­lion black hole.

A re­view has rec­om­mended al­lowances for the 57 coun­cil­lors should rise, a move which would cost the city an ex­tra £ 104,000 at a time when one op­tion is to axe meals on wheels to save £ 96,000.

Coun­cil­lors have been urged to re­ject the in­crease.

A new re­view is rec­om­mend­ing that an ex­tra £ 104,010 is ear­marked for the al­lowances paid to Peter­bor­ough City Coun­cil’s 57 mem­bers.

If the pay hike is agreed by Peter­bor­ough City Coun­cil next Wed­nes­day, it will bring the to­tal an­nual amount paid out in ba­sic al­lowances and spe­cial re­spon­si­bil­ity al­lowances to £ 808,212.

Yet, at the same time, the author­ity is look­ing at a range of op­tions in­clud­ing ax­ing its meals on wheels ser­vice, which would save £ 96,000, to cut its bud­get for the next fi­nan­cial year by £ 10 mil­lion.

Un­der the pro­pos­als from the In­de­pen­dent Mem­bers’

Al­lowances Panel the ba­sic al­lowance, given to ev­ery coun­cil­lor, rises from £ 7,165.95 to £ 9,300.

The Spe­cial Re­spon­si­bil­ity Al­lowances ( SRA) could also rise. If ap­proved, Coun­cil­lor Marco Cer­este, leader of the Con­ser­va­tive- l ed coun­cil, would see his SRA rise from £ 21,498 to £ 27,900.

Com­bined with his ba­sic al­lowance, it means Cllr Cer­este would re­ceive£ 37,200peryear - £ 8,537 more than the £ 28,663 he cur­rently re­ceives.

He said: “I can say I won’t be vot­ing for the report’s changes as they are.

“We are legally obliged to have an in­de­pen­dent panel look­ing into the al­lowance, and we should re­spect the report they have pro­duced, but th­ese are tough eco­nomic times and can­not jus­tify such a big rise.

“We have not made a de­ci­sion on what, if any, parts of there­portwewil­lput­for­ward, and it will be the whole coun­cil who de­cides on what hap­pens. There will not be a party whip on the vote .”

In­de­pen­dent coun­cil­lor JohnFox­said:“Thep­ub­licwill be livid if a rise is given the go ahead, when they are cut­ting back on things in the cur­rent cli­mate. Coun­cil­lors should re­ceive­somem­o­ney, but­these pro­pos­als can­not be right.”

Cllr Nick Sand­ford, leader of the Peter­bor­ough Lib­eral Democrats, said: “The­p­ro­pos­als for a 12 per cent in­crease in the ba­sic al­lowance are too high, and­mem­ber­soft­hep­ub­lic would say it is too high.

“But I do think there does need to be a rise, be­cause it is be­com­ing in­creas­ingly dif­fi­cult­toat­tract­new­coun­cil­lors. The rise should be phased in over a num­ber of years.

“I think the leader of the coun­cil has some big re­spon­si­bil­i­ties, and it is like a full time job.”

Robert Ox­ley, cam­paign man­ager of the Tax­Pay­ers’ Al­liance said: “At a time when the­coun­cil­has­tom­ak­enec­es­sary spend­ing cuts and many staff have been sub­ject to a pay freeze, this would­be­com­pletely wrong.”

Cllr Marco Cer­este

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