The Local Government Chronicle reports (£) that Labour council leaders are demanding a Judicial Review to defend subsidied councillor pensions. It says that the Local Government Association Labour group leader Cllr David Sparks said it was “extremely important that we do not just roll over on this [pension] issue” and suggested a legal challenge, adding: “I am expecting that the report we get in February will look seriously at the whole issue of judicial review.”
Who would pay for the legal challenge? The Local Government Association – which means the Council Taxpayers (apart from in Bromley where the council isn't a member.)
Jules Pipe, the directly elected Labour Mayor of Hackney claimed that the government thought councils “with £1bn-plus turnover can be run by an occasional few evening meetings.” Is Mayor Pipe claiming that when Eric Pickles was leader of Bradford Council that Mr Pickles refused to attend any day time meetings? Or that Brandon Lewis reused to when leader of Brentwood Borough Council? What basis does Mayor Pipe have for such a silly misrepresentation.
Frankly if any councillor decides to stand down in protest at no longer being able to build up a subsidised pension then I would suggest they didn't have quite the right attitude to civic duty in the first place. In fairness I don't think may would. While around 5,000 sign up for the pension scheme that leaves 15,000 of us that don't. The overwhelming response of the 5,000 being told that they can no longer accumulate a higher pension is to shrug it off. I haven't heard of a single one threatening to resign.
Do the Labour Party agree with ending the £7 million a year subsidy for councillors pensions? It would seem not given the Shadow Communities Secretary Hilary Benn is talking up a legal challenge.
Another clue to Labour's priorities can be seen by what they are doing in Wales where all councillors are now paid a "basic salary" of £13,175 with Council leaders on £52,700. The Welsh councillors also retain an entitlement to the Local Government Pension Scheme.