Proposal to increase Richmondshire councillors’ allowances rejected

Richmondshire's councillors. Photo: Stuart Minting.

A proposal to increase pay for Richmondshire district councillors has been rejected.

An independent remuneration panel recommended that allowances paid to members should rise.

But members of full council last night unanimously rejected the proposal saying it was not the right time to implement rises.

A meeting heard the authority had a legal duty to have a panel review the allowances, but this had not happened for at least a decade, leading the £3,000 basic allowance councillors received to get out of step with councillors in other areas.

In addition, a report to the meeting highlighted how allowances should be set at levels which overcome financial and other disincentives that people may experience in being a councillor as well as encourage people from all sections of the community to become and remain councillors.

It also noted how the 2019 elections saw the number of elected
members was reduced from 34 to 24, resulting in £40,000 savings in
members’ allowances.

The panel, which included a Richmondshire Women’s Institute leader and a former university academic, stated the proposed basic allowance increase to £4,326 would be less than the amount that had been saved.

The authority’s leader, Councillor Angie Dale called on the council to thank the panel for its “thorough and fair report”, but urged members to note its recommendations and to take no further action at the moment.

She said: “For many reasons it is not appropriate at the time to consider implementing the recommendations set out in the report.”

Several councillors emphasised it would be wrong for councillors to take extra money at a time many residents were struggling to make ends meet due to the pandemic.

The meeting also heard most of the council’s staff had been told they would not be getting a pay rise.

Councillor Stuart Parsons said: “It would be completely wrong for us to be taking extra money when our staff are not being given the rewards they deserve for all the time, energy and effort they have put in over the past two years with the floods and the pandemic.”

Councillor Helen Grant added no councillor took the role for financial gain.

She said: “There is no financial gain at £8 a day seven days a week. The only unfortunate thing is it’s very difficult to recruit people who want to serve on the council who are younger with bigger responsibilities in terms of mortgages. I don’t think there’s any member who’s under the age of 50 and that’s not a true representation of the people we represent.”

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