Sunday 31 August 2014

Councillors' allowances to be increased at next Council meeting plus who will Labour appoint as Tory leader?

There will be a Full Brent Council meeting on September 8th, only the second since the elections in May.  The first proved controversial with constitutional changes voted through and then later backbench concern about what had been agreed - especially the reduction in Scrutiny committees.

The meeting was noteworthy also for the public split in the Conservative opposition with the three Tories in Brondesbury Park declaring independence from those in Kenton.

That issue will rear its head again when the Council (56 Labour, 6 Tories and one Lib Dem) vote to decide which of the two Tory factions should be the Principal Opposition Group for the purposes of allowances. Perhaps Central Office will mediate before they expose themselves to ridicule.

Fiona Ledden's paper on allowances that will be put before the Council includes increases in allowances but Ledden claims that they remain some of the lowest in London and below those recommended by an independent review.

The recommendations (previous allowance in brackets) include:
The basic allowance for all 63 councillors £10,000  (£7,974)

Additional Allowances

Following the replacement of the Executive by the smaller Cabinet, the two allowances saved will be shared amongst the Cabinet members £18,711 (£14,969)

The Leader of the Council £38,964 (£35,222)

Deputy Leader £28, 397 (£24,655)

Chief Whip majority party £5,473 (no change)

Two additional Deputy whips for the majority party are proposed £2,113 where their majority exceeds 50%.   Previously there were whip allowances of £5,473 for the other two parties. They appear to have been abolished.

Group leader of the Principal Opposition  £12,658 (no change but no deputy principal oppositon group leader allowance.)

Principal Opposition  Group Allowance £2,113 (n/a)
There are a number of other allowances, many of which remain unchanged,  that can be found on the Council website HERE

There are clearly debatable issues such as the additional whips for the Labour group but as someone who has been  a trade unionist since the age of 16 I am not going to fulminate against these proposals. It is right that people should get the rate for the job and carried out properly these are very responsible positions.

However, as an electorate we know that there is varying performance by councillors in terms of the effectiveness of their casework, including basic tasks such as responding to correspondence and attending surgeries, as well as issues around Cabinet and Committee members making sure they have read and understood the relevant papers thoroughly.

Furthermore there have been problems around attendance records at Council meetings in the past and we deserve our councillors' full-time commitment to their job.

Most workers go through appraisal procedures and teachers are now subjected to performance related pay. Perhaps councillors should be accountable to an annual ward citizens' panel between elections to ensure that they are giving value for money?

That is why the Recall proposal of the Make Willesden Green Campaign in the local elections, which the Green Party alone of the parties contesting the election supported, was so important. 

Above views and any responses to comments are in a personal capacity. The Brent Green Party has not yet discussed these proposals. 


Anonymous said...

So will staff doing all the donkey work get the same percentage of increase in their pay? I think not.

Anonymous said...

This is a 25% increase in the basic councillors allowance. Fair rates for work is fine but at a time when they are saying they have no option but to slash services because of budget cuts I can't see how this is justified. Their staff are subject to the public sector pay restraint of central government so why should the bosses (which is what the councillors are) get a pay rise?

The paperwork is shoddy in the extreme. From what I can see of the council report and appendices there is no overall figure given for how much total allowances will amount to under this new system. Less than before? More? The same? How on earth can anyone be expected to make a decision without knowing these figures? I expect, like the last lot of constitutional changes, the councillors will simply stick their hands up out of pure ignorance.

Martin Francis said...

As well as the increase I think you have to look at the actual amount for the basic allowance which is quite low. The problem is that at this rate the job may only be attractive to those who already have a pension and miss out younger people with family commitments, mortgages etc who cannot afford to go part-time in their normal job. We badly need to improve the quality of our councillors and proper renumeration may help.

I agree with you regarding the paperwork. The comparisons above are not in the officers' report or the appendices. I had to ferret out the previous Constitution to make the comparison.

Pete Firmin said...

One reform which national government could bring in (and all parties could recommend) is that where someone is elected to office, whether it be MP, Councillor or whatever, their employer is bound by law to re-employ them when they give up that role. That would at least allow Councillors etc to devote their time to their role without fear that they might be unemployed at the end. It might also mean that Councillors etc. no longer hang on for ever. It is normal practice where trade union executives serve fulltime that they have agreements with employers about reinstatement at the end. The RMT, for instance, has been involved in disputes where employers have tried to back out of this commitment.
Also agree with those who say Councillors should not be getting a greater increase than Council employees.l