No allowance increase for South Holland councillors

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SOUTH Holland’s councillors have voted to have their allowances frozen at their current level for the year ahead.

South Holland District Council leader Coun Gary Porter said it would show a “poor sign of leadership” if members voted to take an increase when other council staff will not be receiving pay rises.

Coun Porter made the recommendation as the full council considered a report on the payments from an Independent Remuneration Panel for the forthcoming financial year on Wednesday.

The remuneration panel had suggested the 2011/12 basic allowance be £5,862 – an overall increase of 1.14 per cent.

However, in putting forward his own recommendations, Coun Porter launched a scathing attack on the panel saying he was “more than a little annoyed”.

He said members of the panel declined to attend the meeting to answer questions about the report.

Coun Porter said he believed the panel should be publicly accountable for its content.

“I am not convinced that we can comply with the rules to have regard to the report,” he said. “I am not sure how we can do that if they are not here to answer questions on how they make up the report.”

Coun Porter claimed he could not find reference to some of the points raised in the report in the minutes of their meetings.

He also blasted them for making reference to the financial climate, saying that was “what politicians in this chamber should be looking at”.

Among his recommendations, Coun Porter suggested bringing allowances for junior portfolio holders in line with others as a percentage of the leader’s £19,320 allowance rather than a fixed £1,000 sum.

He suggested it be ten per cent, which should be back dated to May when the posts were created.

He also suggested the remuneration panel be disbanded and merged with one for Breckland District Council.

But Coun Porter came under fire from fellow councillors when he refused to let each of his recommendations be voted on separately.

Coun Chris Brewis said he was “flabbergasted”, while Coun Doug Best said it was “travesty of democracy”.