Cost of democracy rises to £250,000

COUNCILLORS on North Herts District Council have received more than £250,000 in allowances and expenses over a 12-month period. The figures show an increase of almost £30,000 in payments to the 49 members of the council. Allowances and expenses revealed t

COUNCILLORS on North Herts District Council have received more than £250,000 in allowances and expenses over a 12-month period.

The figures show an increase of almost £30,000 in payments to the 49 members of the council.

Allowances and expenses revealed this week are for a period from April 2007 to March 2008.

Each councillor is allowed a basic allowance of £3,476 - and this will be increased over the next 12 months to £3,622.


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Councillors who have special responsibility receive an extra allowance.

Cllr Fiona Hill, the chairman of the district council's Royston area committee, said she did not believe that the scheme was being abused.

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"There are certainly cases where some councillors take the basic allowance and will not claim expenses.

"Those who do claim expenses do so because otherwise they could be out of pocket from conducting council business," she said.

Cllr Hill, herself, as chairman of the area committee is allowed a special responsibility allowance of £2,827.

The largest special responsibility allowance of £6,912 is given to the leader of the council, Cllr F John Smith.

Cllr Hill said: "As with other councils, being the leader does almost turn into a full-time job."

She continued that the district council's allowance scheme was lower than many other councils around the country.

"Councillors don't seem to claim for as much as they could," she said.

"There are numerous events and occasions when councillors end up spending out of their own pocket.

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