IN THE same week county council bosses announced a raft of ‘devastating cuts’, which would include up to 1,600 job losses, a council panel has backed a rise in ‘allowances’ for the authority’s cabinet members.
Derbyshire County Council’s Labour leader Anne Western has been defending the rises in the amount the cabinet members will be paid, and the amount they can claim in expenses after opposition leaders hit back at the announcement.
Defending the move, Mrs Western explained the rise would reflect the extra responsibilities faced by the members as they face a massive shortfall in Government funding.
She said: “In May we streamlined the cabinet from nine to six members which has allowed us to create an effective, efficient and strong structure to face the difficult decisions that lie ahead.
“I am pleased the panel has given its backing to changes in allowances to reflect extra responsibilities for the deputy leader and a smaller number of cabinet members and also for our deputy cabinet members.
“It’s important to stress that we are not changing the basic allowance for our 63 councillors or the Council Leader – there has been no increase in the councilllors’ basic allowance scheme since 2001.”
Mrs Western insists the changes, when added in to the axing of plans by the former conservative-led administration, will save taypayers £15,000.
Other proposals made by the panel include reducing the amount paid to chairs of scrutiny committees, reinstating an NHS scrutiny committee and introducing a new committee formed from two smaller committees to improve management of the council’s pensions and investments.
Councillor Western commented: “The previous administration agreed a significant increase in the leader of the opposition’s allowance.
“At the time I was the opposition leader and I refused to accept the increased allowance. Our proposal is simply to restore the opposition leader’s allowance to its original level.”
The report of the Independent Remuneration Panel will be considered by a full Council today.