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‘Don’t accept your pay rise’ councillors told ahead of vote

Peterborough City Council leader Marco Cereste. Photo: David Lowndes

Peterborough City Council leader Marco Cereste. Photo: David Lowndes

Thursday, 8.45am: Peterborough City Councillors are to consider awarding themselves a hefty pay rise at the same time as they battle to close a £10 million black hole in the budget.

A new review is recommending that an extra £104,010 is earmarked for the allowances paid to Peterborough City Council’s 57 members.

If the pay hike is agreed by Peterborough City Council next Wednesday, it will bring the total annual amount paid out in basic allowances and special responsibility allowances to £808,212.

Yet, at the same time, the authority is looking at a range of options including axing its meals on wheels service, which would save £96,000, to cut its budget for the next financial year by £10 million.

Under the proposals from the Independent Members’ Allowances Panel the basic allowance, given to every councillor, rises from £7,165.95 to £9,300.

The Special Responsibility Allowances (SRA) could also rise. If approved, Councillor Marco Cereste, leader of the Conservative-led council, would see his SRA rise from £21,498 to £27,900.

Combined with his basic allowance, it means Cllr Cereste would receive £37,200 per year - £8,537 more than the £28,663 he currently receives.

He said: “I can say I won’t be voting for the report’s changes as they are.

“We are legally obliged to have an independent panel looking into the allowance, and we should respect the report they have produced, but these are tough economic times and cannot justify such a big rise.

“We have not made a decision on what, if any, parts of the report we will put forward, and it will be the whole council who decides on what happens. There will not be a party whip on the vote .”

Independent councillor John Fox said: “The public will be livid if a rise is given the go ahead, when they are cutting back on things in the current climate. Councillors should receive some money, but these proposals cannot be right.”

Cllr Nick Sandford, leader of the Peterborough Liberal Democrats, said: “The proposals for a 12 per cent increase in the basic allowance are too high, and members of the public would say it is too high.

“But I do think there does need to be a rise, because it is becoming increasingly difficult to attract new councillors. The rise should be phased in over a number of years.

“I think the leader of the council has some big responsibilities, and it is like a full time job.”

Robert Oxley, campaign manager of the TaxPayers’ Alliance said: “At a time when the council has to make necessary spending cuts and many staff have been subject to a pay freeze, this would be completely wrong.”

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