THE leader of the borough’s Labour group has vowed not to take a one per cent allowance increase after councillors rejected a move to block the rise.
Councillors at Basingstoke and Deane Borough Council have been awarded the increase in line with council staff below senior manager level, who will receive a one per cent cost of living pay rise – senior managers are not receiving an increase.
More than half of the councillors voted against a Labour motion to block the rise for members, with just 17 councillors voting in support of blocking the rise and five abstaining.
A basic allowance of £6,669 will now be awarded for the 2014-15 year for councillors at Basingstoke and Deane Borough Council from April 1.
Members who have additional roles within the council are also entitled to a ‘Special Responsibility Allowance’. The council provides this extra allowance if they are satisfied they have special responsibilities in order to carry out their work at the authority.
Under the special responsibility allowance, the leader and deputy leader of the borough council will receive an additional £22,238 and £14,816 respectively for the next year.
Thirty borough councillors rejected the motion proposed by Labour group leader Laura James – the one per cent rise will bring the total budget for member allowances under the scheme to £561,400.
Cllr James, a borough councillor for Norden, told the full council meeting: “The Labour group believe that allowances should be frozen for three years.
“We do not support linking councillor allowances with council staff wages. We spoke against this last year and we still oppose it – I won’t be taking this one per cent.”
However, Liberal Democrat group leader Gavin James, who represents Eastrop, said: “There are sacrifices we make by becoming councillors – we can all afford these sacrifices because of receiving an allowance.
“I am not against an increase because I like what we do. I look around my ward and see good things that I have made happen. I see lots of good things that could be worse had I not been involved and there are bad things that I am working on.”
Cllr Mark Ruffell, who represents Upton Grey and the Candovers, told the meeting: “We have to think about the economic reality of Basingstoke and Deane as a borough.
“This increase will not affect our residents – the council tax is frozen and with any luck it will continue to be frozen so the cost is not passed on to them. We live in one of the best-run boroughs in the country – there is no doubt about that.”
But Cllr Laura James hit back: “The economic reality of Basingstoke and Deane is that we have got people using food banks.”