The Mail on Sunday reports a proposal from the Labour leader Ed Miliband that all Labour councillors should hand over 7% of their allowances to the Party – or face expulsion. 5% would go to the local party, 2% to the national party.
I think it is reasonable for councillors to make some contribution to Party funds over above the basic membership sub. Just as it is reasonable that they should put some time in campaigning to get themselves elected it is also reasonable that they should put some money in towards the cost.
Often councillors may choose to donate more than the equivalent of 7% of their allowances to Party funds. But I would be sorry if the Conservatives followed Labour's proposal of making it a mandatory levy – in Labour's case being increased from 2% to 7%. This is also an example of where localism should be applied by political parties.
This is a time when councillors should be setting an example by freezing or cutting their allowances. This is harder to achieve if political parties are demanding a higher share. It gives them an interest in supporting increased councillors allowances. Usually it is Labour councils that pay excess allowances – in Glasgow it is £16,234. In Bolsover it is more than twice the average for a district council.
Lambeth has increased councillor allowances by 60% since 2005. Why should their basic allowance be £10,599? The Special Responsibility Allowances are also high. For example while helping Alastair Campbell edit his diaries we had Cllr Mark Bennett paid a total of £39,489.96 in allowances for 2009/10. While Cllr Imogen Walker picked up an extra £10,905, on top of her £10,599, for her onerous duties as Chairman of the Environment and Community Safety Scrutiny Committee. (It meets about half a dozen times a year.)