Cllr refuses allowance increase

An increase in allowances for county councillors has been refused by Bexhill East’s Charlie Clark because he believes it is unfair on residents.

The Pebsham man has turned down the one percent rise because he would not be “comfortable” taking it when residents are faced with an increase in their council tax this year.

He told the Observer: “The member’s scheme of allowances provides for allowances to be indexed to the percentage increase in the salaries of managers who are on locally negotiated pay,” and said during its March meeting the Governance committee approved a pay award of one percent.

Cllr Clark said: “As a result councillors’ basic allowances and any special responsibility allowance will increase by one percent with effect from April 1 2014. I am very pleased that we are able to give our staff a small increase in pay, after years of their pay being frozen. However I will not be accepting an increase in my own council allowances. The increase may not be a great amount but considering residents are faced with an increase in their council tax this year I am not comfortable in accepting an increase in my allowances. I have informed the council of my decision.”

He added that he was unhappy with the way the increase was agreed and felt it had gone under the radar - he was informed by email that the decision had been made and said: “I am very passionate about this. To have a 1.9 percent increase in council tax and then turn around and say I will protect my allowance doesn’t show a lot of compassion for the residents. I just think it is wrong. That’s why I am refusing it.”

An ESCC spokesman confirmed the one percent rise and said this was the first increase in 5 years, adding: “The allowance is linked to inflationary increases in management staff pay – a measure that has been agreed by an independent panel. A review of councillors allowances will be carried out late this year.”