Waveney councillors approve 28.6pc rise in allowances

The Waveney District Council offices at Riverside in Lowestoft. Picture: Archant library.

The Waveney District Council offices at Riverside in Lowestoft. Picture: Archant library. - Credit: Eastern Daily Press © 2015

Waveney councillors have voted to award themselves a 28.6pc allowance increase following a recommendation from an independent panel.

The increase will see district councillors receiving £4,787.57 in basic allowances each year, back dated to April 2017, a rise from the £3,722 previously paid.

The change, however, was voted against by members of the Waveney Labour group who said it was the wrong time for an increase when the 'inevitable increase' in council tax would land on residents' doormats in a few weeks time.

Twenty-three Conservative councillors voted in favour, with one abstention.

In its report to the council, the Independent Remuneration Panel (IRP) said the disparity in the amount of basic allowance between Waveney district councillors and those at Suffolk Coastal had been recognised, particularly in light of the shared working between both councils and the similarity of roles and responsibilities.

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It said the disparity also highlighted the fact that Waveney councillors had, over a number of years, foregone any increases in their basic allowance, and that the council's allowance was very low in comparison to other councils in the area.

Mark Bee, leader of Waveney District Council said: 'Councillors of all parties work incredibly hard for their local communities and yet, here in Waveney, have historically received the lowest payment of all districts and boroughs in the county. In addition, this is the first time that we have agreed to adopt the findings of the panel in over 10 years and even now, this increase would potentially only add, at the most, around £80,000 to the council's likely budget of £63 million. This amounts to just over 0.1pc - a tiny fraction - of council spending in 2018/19.'

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The council also approved IRP's recommendation to increase allowances for those with special responsibilities.

Sonia Barker, leader of the Waveney Labour group, said: 'This is absolutely the wrong time for such an enormous increase which is morally indefensible and will look to residents as just plain greedy. The Waveney Labour group emphasised that many Waveney residents are struggling with an increase in inflation and the failure of their wages to keep up with living costs as Waveney has one of the lowest average gross wages pa at £20,300 compared to £28,400 nationally.'

The full report and recommendations by the IRP can be viewed at www.eastsuffolk.gov.uk/wdc-council-24-january-2018

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