Few responses to Peterborough city councillors’ pay rise query

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Only four out of 59 Peterborough city councillors responded when asked if they had given away or returned their pay rise worth more than £2,000 a year.

After Cllr June Bull told the Peterborough Telegraph she was giving all her extra money to St John the Baptist Church, the PT contacted all other members to ask what they had done with their rise in allowances.

The rise from £7,962 a year to £10,100, which had been recommended by an independent panel, was voted through by the Conservatives in October 2016 and came into force last April. Opposition groups had opposed the full rise, with the Liberal Democrats abstaining on the vote.

Lib Dem group leader Cllr Nick Sandford, member for Paston and Walton, told the PT last week: “I am a regular worshipper at the Church of the Holy Spirit, Bretton, and so I give a donation each month to them through their Stewardship Scheme.

“I also give monthly donations to a number of other local and national charities and campaigning groups.”

Liberal Party member for Dogsthorpe, Cllr Bella Saltmarsh, said: “I donate most of my extra allowance so that the youth work and other children’s activities in my ward can continue.”

Labour’s Cllr Ann Sylvester, member for Bretton, referred the PT to an earlier statement where she said she had donated all bar necessary expenses since being elected.

Cllr Nigel Simons, conservative member for Eye, Thorney and Newborough, who like Labour’s Shaz Nawaz and Matthew Mahabadi was elected after the vote on the pay rise, said: “Since becoming a councillor in September I have brought items for people along with my fellow councillors Steve Allen and Richard Brown. I have also done several things on my own.”

The Labour group has twice tried to have the allowance rise overturned, but other than Cllr Sylvester no other members from the party replied to the PT’s email about giving the extra money away.

Previously Cllr Richard Ferris, member for Park ward, said his increase would be spent on community skips, leaflets and newsletters for the benefit of local residents.

Other councillors have also argued that offering a higher allowance will allow more people to stand for election.

The pay rise, which also includes extra money for councillors with special responsibilities, costs the council an extra £186,000 a year.