Conservative-run Cambridgeshire County Council has voted through a 25% increase in councillors allowances. There was a free vote on adopting the Independent Tribunal Panel's recommendations. Mostly the vote went along Party lines – Conservatives in favour, Lib Dems against.
However Cllr Steve Tierney was one of the Conservatives who opposed the hike.
“We’ve been asking staff to take a pay freeze and we’ve been making people redundant, and I would feel very uncomfortable taking a rise.”
Basic allowances will increase from £7,610 per year to £9,500. The total paid to the council leader, Ckkr Nick Clarke goes up from £29,856 to £38,000.
A Council spokesman says:
"The increase brings Cambridgeshire County Council's allowances more in line with those paid by other county councils.
He adds that the council has not increased its allowances since 2003 and that its last review was in 2006 when councillors voted not to increase their allowances.
Those are genuine mitigating circumstances. Even with the increase Cambridgeshire's allowances are not excessive compared to other county councils. The LGA survey from 2008 found that the average basic allowance in county councils was £9,978. Cambridgeshire councillors might feel hard done by getting shouted at by demonstrators for putting their allowances up to £9,500 a year when in Nottinghamshire the basic allowance is £12,435, in Warwickshire £14,451, in Kent £12,000, in Hampshire £11,565. Manchester councillors pay themselves a basic allowance of £15,956.
But Cambridgeshire's timing is appalling.