Councillors allowance hike rejected

PUBLISHED: 10:27 03 November 2011

A CONTROVERSIAL 25 per cent allowance rise for Cambridgeshire County Council has been declared void after a whistle blower unearthed a number of procedual failures.

The leader of Cambridge County Council has said he will not resign over the fallout.

Cllr Nick Clarke told critics of the flawed allowances scheme to “get over it” as he admitted “cock-ups do happen”.

The senior figure said his chief executive Mark Lloyd was embarrassed at the situation.

“Yes there is a bit of embarrassment for the chief executive’s team – perfectly proper in the circumstances – but let’s now get on with the business in hand,” he said.

Cambridgeshire County Council will now have to start a fresh review of its allowances if it wants to push ahead with the increases.

On Tuesday the council’s standards committee unanimously rejected a recommendation to retrospectively ratify the process which created the independent panel responsible for deciding on councillor allowances.

In an email to councillors, Quentin Baker, director of legal services, said the decision by full council last month to increase allowances, which brought protesters to Shire Hall, was now “defective”.

The rise would have increased every councillor’s basic allowance from £7,610 to £9,500, and the leader’s package from £29,856 to £38,000.

Cllr Clarke added: “As far as I am concerned we need to be looking at what we do to make sure we don’t fall into this trap again.

“I am certainly not going to resign over it.”

The problems were discovered by former-councillor Clare Blair who put a series of questions to the council.

After the decision on Tuesday, she said it was “absolutely right”.

Cambridgeshire Liberal Democrats had collected a 3,000-strong petition opposing the rise, which would bring CCC in line with Hertfordshire County Council, which has a basic allowance of £9,588, with leader Robert Gordon receiving a special allowance of £37,511 a year.

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