Good news from Barnet. The Conservative council has abandoned plans to implement big increases in allowances. Instead they are planning to freeze them fro Cabinet Members. This changes will save an estimated £95,000 overall.
There has been lots of pressure of Barnet over the allowances hike, local and nation, from within the Conservative Party and outside. Yesterday I wrote about a planned leadership challenge on the issue – I don't know whether that will still proceed. We don't want to be chococlate teapots. We should stand up topressure if we are doing the right thing. The problem for Barnet Council was although they were independent recommendations implementung them was the wrong thing to do. So they are to be commended for "revisiting" the issue.
The council leader, Cllr Lynne Hillan says:
“The Cabinet has been listening carefully to the views expressed by residents over the past couple of weeks regarding the change to Members’ Allowances and has taken them on board.
“There will be many difficult decisions about the future of the council to be taken over the coming months. We need to consult widely and take residents with us on those decisions.
“I have spent the last fortnight speaking to colleagues and it has become clear that we simply can’t have the conversations we need to have with residents about the future of the council, our services and the decisions that need to be made, with this debate about allowances going on.
"There are times when leadership is about action and there are times when it is about listening. I have listened and I am acting.
“The previous allowances scheme was much criticised and I have no doubt that it was in need of change. Many of the reforms we made should stay, not least for the sake of transparency.
“But I also appreciate that many residents are unhappy that Cabinet Members’ allowances could increase when service budgets face reductions.
“Residents have made it clear that they expect elected members to set an example to other parts of the council.
“The proposal I will put to Council in September will bring an overall cut to the budget for member’s allowances of around £95,000.”
Good for her.