Row breaks out over plan to cut Kirklees councillors' allowances in a bid to save jobs
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Earlier this week, Coun John Taylor (Con, Kirkburton), said he “fully supported the sentiment” of councillor allowance cuts, but feared this would expose and humiliate members who were not in a financial position to take a cut and was putting people under “severe pressure to conform”.
The issue was initially debated by the Corporate Governance and Audit Committee on Tuesday (September 12) where a report set out the requests of council leader, Coun Cathy Scott, for councillors’ allowances.
She requested that all councillors took a five percent reduction on their allowances and opt out of the already scheduled pay increase.
On top of this, she asked that an independent review panel was set up to consider councillors’ allowances going forward. The committee, minus Coun Taylor, were in favour of the proposals.
The debate rolled over into full council the following night with leader of the Conservative Group, Coun David Hall, saying that it was “unforgivably crass” to make councillors publicly reveal whether they could afford to take a pay cut and a “serious error of judgement” on behalf of Coun Scott.
He added: “There are members who can’t afford to take a five per cent pay cut – I know that because I’ve spoken to them – and to apply such intimidation in the council chamber is abominable.”
The Labour group were highly supportive of the proposals, with members explaining that the pay cut was a demonstration of solidarity with the public and those who will lose their jobs at the council.
The Lib Dems said they would be voting in favour of the item but shared the concerns of the Conservative group around “unfairly” highlighting those who couldn’t afford to take the hit.
Coun Jackie Ramsey (Labour, Dewsbury South) estimated that the initial £100k saving target from the allowance cuts would save three to four council jobs.
She added: “If we can save any job it will have a positive impact, not only on that individual but on their family.”
The council will email individual councillors and they will be asked whether they will be taking a pay cut and opting out of the proposed increase.