Peterborough councillor calls for suspension of allowances to leaders amid council cash crisis

A Peterborough councillor has called for Special Responsibility Allowances for leaders on the city council to be suspended.

Councillor Ansar Ali.
Councillor Ansar Ali.

Cllr Ansar Ali, Labour and Cooperative Party member for North ward, has put forward a motion to full council next week (January 26) that, if approved, would suspend payment of Special Responsibility Allowances (SRA) to the leader, deputy leader, cabinet members, cabinet advisers, chairs of committees and opposition group leaders for the next three years, commencing in 2022/23.

SRA allowances are payable to any member of the council who holds significant additional responsibilities to the ordinary duties of a councillor.

The briefing notes state currently £253,112 is set to be paid out this year in SRA payments. Council Leader Wayne Fitzgerald is set to receive £31,52, with Deputy Leader Steve Allen £21,017. Each member of the cabinet is set to receive £15,762, with opposition group leaders on £7,881 to be distributed on a pro-rata basis.

The full list is as follows:

- Leader of the Council £31,524

- Deputy Leader - £21,017

- Cabinet Members - £15,762 x6

- Cabinet Advisors - £7,881 x4

- Chairman Planning & Environmental Protection Committee - £9,457

- Chairman of Licensing Committee - £7,881

- Chairman of Audit Committee - £7,881

- Chairman of Corporate Parenting Committee - £7,881

- Chairman of Employment Committee - £1,970

- Chairs of Scrutiny Committees - £7,881 x4

- Leaders of Opposition Groups (to be distributed on a pro-rata basis) - £7,881

Cllr Ali’s motion comes as a response to the council’s troubled financial situation, which has led to significant cut backs, including closing the Key Theatre and Werrington Leisure Centre as the council seeks to balance the city’s books.

The motion, which also asks the cabinet to “accept their responsibility for this unacceptable situation”, states: “It is regrettable that PCC finds itself in such a difficult financial situation.

“This situation has occurred because of ill-judged decisions of the Council’s Conservative administration for most of the last two decades, including the decision not to increase council tax by the full amount despite being told on many occasions that our council tax banding is, on average, lower than our statistical neighbours, whilst funding from central government has reduced by 80 percent in the past ten years.

“This situation is no fault of our Peterborough residents and Council taxpayers. Yet they are the ones who will be asked to pay a substantial increase in Council Tax for next year and future years, whilst the council will continue to cut all but essential services.

“The burden on our Council taxpayers is unacceptable.”