Monday, 2 March 2015

Cutting Councillor Allowances - an alternative view

Barnet will be discussing Cllr allowances at the meeting on Tuesday, the same meeting where they will be receiving a petition on library closures.

Cllrs currently receive an allowance of £10,597 and, in addition, certain Cllrs receive a special responsibility allowance. These range from an additional £35,000 for Richard Cornelius as leader of the council down to an additional £2,368 for Chairmen (even women are Chairmen) of the Residents Forums and Vice Chairmen of 8 committees. 17 Chairmen of committees receive an additional allowance of £15,333. This ranges from committees which sit frequently such as the Planning Committee - 10/11 times a year, to those which sit just four times a year such as the Housing Committee or Community Leadership Committee. The Licensing Committee Chairman attracts a lower special responsibility allowance of £8,852 but in 2014 this committee only sat twice.

From what I can see, 26 of the 32 Conservative councillors receive some form of special responsibility allowance whereas only one Labour Cllr receives an additional allowance, Alison Moore, as leader of the major opposition group. Some Cllrs work hard for which they receive their main allowance and I understand why the leader and opposition leader receive an additional allowance as they have to devote a great deal of time to the running of the council but the rest of the special responsibility allowances seem to me like a way to reward loyalty within the Conservative group.

If we really want to make cuts, I would do away with all special responsibility allowances other than for Cllr R Cornelius and Cllr Moore. If committee chairmen didn't receive an allowance then maybe the council would rationalise the number of committees.

By way of example of how the current system isn't working is Danny Seal, the globe trotting Cllr for Hampstead Garden Suburb who has only attended 9 of the 15 meetings he should have attended, or just 60%, see the details here. However, in addition to his standard allowance of £10,597 he receives an additional allowance of £2,368 for his role as Chairman of the Finchley & Golders Green Residents Forum. Imagine an employee turning up only 60% of the time and asking for extra payment. They would be shown the door.

By cutting out special responsibility allowances it would reduce the allowances bill by approximately £300,000 a year and in addition would do away with the patronage system that buys loyalty with committee chairmanship roles.

Perhaps Cllrs should consider this before they go making cuts to the library and other essential services which residents value on Tuesday.

1 comment:

  1. This is exactly the kind of revolutionary thinking that undermines confidence in the Barnet Tories. You know that you have to be confident that everything they do is in their own interest, that they are leading the Borough by example and that reason, integrity and abiding by their own Code of Conduct is an admission of weakness. What last night's meeting demonstrated is the extent to which they now clearly don't care what the electorate think about them. The Seal's absence from the meeting made it even more clear-cut that this is a bunch of leeches grabbing and pillaging while they still have the chance.

    Patronage, ideologically-driven imbecilic and expensive policy mistakes and an arrogant disdain for anything remotely resembling democracy and accountability - what's not to conclude? Still, the image of Cllr Salinger picking up payment from the taxpayer to read his golfing magazine needs to become the centre of the argument over what is wrong with Tory control in Barnet.