Allowance system is ‘flawed’

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FURTHER to comments regarding increases to councillors’ allowances. I wanted to make clear the position the Lib Dems have taken on Fenland Council.

We voted against the increases as we believe it is not right or ethical at this time. The Conservatives, who voted to increase the allowance, are wrong for a number of reasons.

It demonstrates a lack of leadership, as elected representatives it is their duty to lead by example. Councillors need to consider the fact that many workers and their families have not had an increase to their wages for a number of years. It is not ethical to vote through increases for themselves in the current environment.

There have been some arguments put forward that, as it is an independent review, so councillors should accept the conclusions without questioning it. I do not believe that councillors can absolve responsibility on this basis; they are elected to take decisions. All other matters are fully debated and considered at council meetings.

I have argued that increases to councillors allowances should be linked to the same percent increase that council workers receive annually.

This would avoid the situation where councillors vote to increase their own pay and introduce a more gradual system of increasing allowances. The current system is flawed and needs overhauling.

There has also been the debate that we need a more diverse representation of councillors to represent the community by making the allowances more appealing to potential candidates.

I agree we need wider representation, but this can best be achieved by changing the times of council meetings to late afternoon/early evening, so those who work have a better chance of being giving time to attend.

CLLR GAVIN BOOTH

Parson Drove & Wisbech St Mary Ward

Leader Liberal Democrat Group, Fenland District Council