Fenland District Councillors vote to postpone giving themselves a pay rise for two years

Councillor Will Sutton recommended postponing a pay rise for Fenland District Councillors.
Councillor Will Sutton recommended postponing a pay rise for Fenland District Councillors.

Fenland councillors have voted to postpone giving themselves a pay rise until November 2019 with deputy leader Will Sutton arguing ‘it’s absolutely the right thing to do’.

The unanimous vote was made at Thursday afternoon’s full council meeting when members allowances was up for discussion.

A report to the meeting said under local government law councils must review members allowances at least every four years - the last review for Fenland was carried out in 2015.

An independent renumeration panel recommends what councillors should receive for costs incurred while conducting council business this includes a basic allowance, special responsibility allowances and travelling and other costs.

In November 2015 the panel recommended a review of Fenland’s allowances should be undertaken within two years of the 2015 review with a deadline of November 2017.

By law the council has until November 2019 to review members allowances and so there were two options before Thursday’s meeting at Fenland Hall: Option a: To defer a review until November 2019 or Option b: To complete a review for November this year.

Deputy leader Will Sutton, who was standing in for leader John Clark, recommended deferring the review which would be after the next district council elections.

Independent Councillor Virginia Bucknor agreed and said: “I was horrified that Cambridgeshire County Council has increased their allowances by nine per cent. I certainly support option a to defer the review for at least two years.”

A view also back by Councillor Jan French.

However, Councillor Kit Owen argued that leaving the allowances unchanged could put some people off standing for office, because of the expense involved in being a councillor.

He said only those with a private income were likely to stand, and Fenland was unlikely to attract younger members.

However, Councillor Sutton argued it was difficult to justify raising members allowances at a time when services were being cut and the council tax was going up.

“I reiterate is my view and the view of our leader that deferring the review is absolutely the right thing to do at this present time,” he said.