The Sunday Express reports that Lord Beecham, Labour's spokesman on Local Government in the House of Lords, has called for an increase in councillors allowances.
The plea was made by Labour peer Jeremy Beecham, who told a local government conference in Newcastle he wanted to see more councillors being appointed to scrutinise the work of their authorities. This, he argued, should be backed by a new allowance.
The report adds:
Lord Beecham argued the current system of a single executive councillor was too much work for one person and called for each executive member to have a deputy, “preferably with some appropriate, if modest, allowance”.
Local Government Minister Grant Shapps said:
“At a time when households are having to tighten their belts and public sector workers are taking a pay freeze, Lord Beecham is calling for a pay hike in councillor allowances. His comments are insensitive and disrespectful.”
Does Lord Beecham's call represent official Labour policy? As a Parliamentary spokesman presumably his speech would have been cleared in advance. Has his proposal been costed? Does his think extra central Government grant should pay for it? Paying ten councillors in each council an extra £10,000 each would cost over £40 million. In his earlier incarnation as Sir Jeremy Beecham he was leader of the Labour Group on the Local Government Association.