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Government Minister Condemns County Council’s ‘Disturbing’ Allowances Hike

Published on: 13 Jul, 2014
Updated on: 13 Jul, 2014
SCC sign Surrey County Council

Surrey County Council sign outside County Hall, Kingston

A minister for local government has described increases of up to 60% to Surrey county councillors’ allowances as “deeply disturbing”.

The comment from Brandon Lewis MP, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State at the Department for Communities and Local Government, comes in a response to letters from the Lib Dem leader at County Hall, Kingston upon Thames, Cllr Heather Watson (Mole Valley), in which she raised concerns over the “excessive” rises.

County Councillor Hazel Watson, leader of the Lib Dems at County Hall, Kingston

County Councillor Hazel Watson, leader of the Lib Dems at County Hall.

Cllr Watson wrote asking for an investigation into the, “excessive increases in councillor allowances and the excessive number of special responsibility allowances pushed through by the Conservative administration”. She also asked for a check on whether the Government’s own regulations had been followed by the county council.

Recommendations by an independent panel for hefty increases of around 30%, which would have taken the council leader’s allowance from £27,000 to £35,500, were ignored by councillors voting for far larger increases. The independent panel resigned after the vote which, instead, approved increases of up to 60%, taking the leader’s allowance to £43,000.

In a press statement Cllr Watson said: “I am delighted with the response I have received from Brandon Lewis to my letter. He has condemned the decisions on councillors’ allowances as “deeply concerning” and agrees with me that Surrey County Council did not comply with government regulations.

“He has stated that the Government expects those in public life to show restraint and to set levels of allowances for councillors and remuneration for officers which reflect the pressure on budgets and the need to pay off the deficit left by the last administration. I totally agree with his comments.

“Given the Government’s clear condemnation of the decisions and also the outrage expressed by Surrey residents who have to foot the bill, I am again calling on the Conservative administration at County Hall to overturn their decisions on councillors’ allowances and replace them with something much more reasonable.

“The Conservative administration at County Hall is living in cloud cuckoo land if they think that they can get away with these outrageous councillor allowances. It is time for them to back down and admit they made a massive mistake to the detriment of Surrey residents.”

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Responses to Government Minister Condemns County Council’s ‘Disturbing’ Allowances Hike

  1. Bernard Parke Reply

    July 13, 2014 at 4:55 pm

    Not so long ago it was thought both a honour and a privilege to serve our community as a councillor in a voluntary capacity as in fact magistrates still do.

    It was believed that the quality of candidates could be improved by paying allowances.

    The question should now be asked if this has now proved to have happened?

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