Fringe Box



Surrey Council Leader Backs Down Over Controversial Allowance Increase

Published on: 15 Jul, 2014
Updated on: 15 Jul, 2014
SCC sign Surrey County Council

County Hall in Kingston upon Thames.

The leader of Surrey County Council, David Hodge, (Con, Warlingham) has said that he and his deputy will not take the 59% or 60% increases awarded following a majority vote by his fellow councillors. Instead they will take a 30% rises recommended by an independent panel.

The leader of Surrey County Council, David Hodge.

The leader of Surrey County Council, David Hodge.

A statement from Cllr Hodge, delivered in the council chamber at County Hall, Kingston this morning (July 15), came in the wake of widespread criticism of the award, including that of a Conservative government minister who said it was “deeply disturbing”.

Cllr Hodge said: “I became a councillor not for personal gain… I believe that council’s decision on the allowance that it pays to the leader of this council, in light of the large and onerous responsibilities that this post carries, was reached by members on the basis of the detailed and careful consideration of all the factors.

“Having taken no part in those deliberations I respect the maturity of their decision making and the conclusions they reached.

“I have been considering their recommendations and their decision since the last council meeting and would like to make my personal position clear.

“It is disappointing and unfortunate that this matter has been taken up by some in the social networks and media with ill-informed comments based on inaccurate reporting or a failure to substantiate the truth. This does nothing to further the causes of Surrey County Council…

“I … believe that the correct place to respond to council’s discussions and decisions is always in this chamber.

“I understand and respect the decision made by council on the allowances and the reasons for it. I agree with that decision.

“Nevertheless, at this moment, I have made a personal decision to accept only the level of allowance recommended by the IRP [Independent Review Panel]. My deputy [Cllr Peter Martin (Con, Godalming South, Milford & Witley)] has made a similar decision.”

The leader of the opposition, Cllr Hazel Watson (Lib Dem, Mole Valley), was prevented from asking follow up questions. She was told they are not allowed on personal statements. But later in the proceedings she did ask how the decision would affect recommendations for the councillors with other special responsibilities and for the leader’s reaction to a letter from Brandon Lewis, the government minister responsible for local government.

Cllr Hodge appeared ruffled as, in an apparent side-swipe at the minister, a fellow Conservative he replied: “…In terms of what the minister said I do not intend to respond to comments from those who have not read the facts.”

The council leader will now receive a special responsibilities allowance (SRA) of £35,548pa, up from £27,000 last year but less than the £43,000 voted for by the council and that he is reported to have said was the minimum he could accept. The SRA is on top of his councillor’s basic allowance of £12,418 per annum.

Conservative Guildford county councillors, Graham Ellwood (Guildford East) and Mark Brett-Warburton (Guildford South East) had both earlier declined to comment on the subject.

Later the Labour Party’s prospective parliamentary candidate for Guildford, Richard Wilson, who has been organising a petition against the increases to county councillor allowances said: “Thank you to everyone who signed my petition. We have forced Cllr Hodge into this U-turn against his will. We are declaring victory today but our victory is not yet complete so I ask people to continue signing my petition. I aim to reverse all of these pay hikes, not just the leader’s and deputy leader’s 60 per cent hikes.

“Until today, Hodge defended his 60 per cent pay hike as the minimum necessary to do his job. If this is true, then surely he will now resign since his new lower allowance will not be enough. Hodge has been slammed by Conservative MPs, ministers and local parties. The public have spoken with one voice in supporting my campaign to reverse his ill-judged money-grab. His reputation has been irreparably damaged by this and I call on him to consider his position.”

See also: Government Minister Condemns County Council’s ‘Disturbing’ Allowances Hike


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Responses to Surrey Council Leader Backs Down Over Controversial Allowance Increase

  1. Mary Bedforth Reply

    July 15, 2014 at 12:54 pm

    Well, well.

    The oxygen of publicity has done the trick. What about the rest of them though?

  2. Mike Davis Reply

    July 15, 2014 at 1:23 pm

    No they should not get a pay rise over the 1.5% and for their cheek they all should quit.

    Anyway, come next May we, the voters, will have our say at the ballot box – simple as that.

  3. Mary Bedforth Reply

    July 15, 2014 at 2:46 pm

    Total councillor allowances and expenses for the financial year 2012/13 amounted to £1,417,291. There are 83 councillors.

    The details are here.

    The 2013/14 financial year ended March 2014. It is now July. Why is the statement of allowances and expenses for last year not available online?

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