CIVIC chiefs have approved pay rises worth thousands of pounds for three senior councillors.

 Hampshire County Council has doubled the allowances of Cllrs Mark Kemp-Gee and Tom Thacker for chairing its pension fund panel.

Tory councillors outvoted the opposition last Thursday as critics said it was “morally wrong” to increase politicians’ pay while frontline services were being cut.

Cllr Rob Humby is set to receive £4,345 per year for his new role of rural affairs champion.

Backing the plans, Conservative Cllr Stephen Reid said: “I believe we’re righting the wrong here, an injustice, and we’ve had great service from the people who are helping to run our pensions.”

Cllrs Kemp-Gee and Thacker, chairman and vice chairman of the pension fund owner and board, will respectively earn £11,586 and £2,901 per year. 

It comes on top of county councillors’ basic allowance of £12,003, which has been frozen for the last seven years.

Pay changes are recommended by the council’s Independent Renumeration Panel (IRP) but have frequently been rejected by the council in recent years. 
Independent councillor and former Hampshire UKIP chief Tony Hooke said: “Looking around this chamber, it doesn’t look like anyone is struggling. We can’t keep taking money ourselves and cutting frontline services. It’s not right on any level.”

Lib Dem group leader Cllr Keith House also opposed the pay rise, claiming it had not been budgeted for.

Lib Dem Cllr David Simpson, who described the pay rise as “morally wrong”, proposed taking the cash from existing budgets instead of adding to public spending.

Council leader Roy Perry said it would be considered.