Council votes against pay rise due to ‘financial difficulties’

The decision was made by North Somerset Council

The decision was made by North Somerset Council - Credit: Archant

Councillors have decided against giving themselves a 14 per cent pay rise, because of the authority’s ‘financial difficulties’.

At the latest North Somerset Council meeting, members voted on whether to increase their £8,193-a-year basic allowance.

Every member gets the allowance and councillors with extra responsibilities – such as chairing a committee – get more money.

Every four years, an independent panel reviews these allowances and recommend any changes.

The panel suggested a 14 per cent increase to £9,332 per member – which would have cost the authority £55,000 a year.

This is because there are fewer councillors, so the panel suggests every councillor now spends 24.5 hours a week on their duties.

But councillors rejected the rise – because the authority is trying to save cash by reviewing services and has increased council tax demands by 3.75 per cent this year.

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Instead, councillors voted to stick to the current system, where council allowances increase at the same rate as staff wages, by one per cent – or £82 – a year.

Council leader Nigel Ashton said: “I am sure there are arguments on both sides but I think, at a time when we are going through financial difficulties, we have got no right to give ourselves a pay increase.”

But some councillors disagreed and suggested raising the allowance could encourage more young people into politics.

Clevedon councillor Chris Blades said: “It is difficult to get a cross-section of people to stand for office. I think that is a shame.

“It is easy to say it is an honorary role but if you want a cross-section it has got to be paid for somehow.”

And Portishead councillor Peter Burden said: “I think it is our duty to agree with the panel – whether people agree to take the pay increase is up to them.”

In total, 24 out of the 40 councillors voted against accepting the panel’s recommendation.