Agenda item - Review of Members Allowances

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Agenda item

Review of Members Allowances

Extract from the proceedings of the Governance Committee meeting held on the 20th October 2011, together with a report of Strategic Director, Resources (copies attached).


27.1         Prior to the consideration of the report, the Mayor welcomed the Chairman and a member of the Independent Remuneration Panel to the meeting.


27.2         Councillor Littman introduced the report which outlined the recommendations of the Independent Remuneration Panel, following its review of Members’ Allowances.  He noted that the Panel had previously reported to the Council and had been asked to reconsider a number of points and to report back on their recommendations.  He was also ware that the council had indicated its desire to return to a committee system, however he did not feel that this should prevent consideration of the current recommendations of the Panel.  He also noted that the current Members’ Allowances Scheme provided for a total of 36 Special Responsibility Allowances (SRA’s), which was above the 50% guideline and that the Panel’s revised scheme would provide for 26 SRA’s.  Councillor Littman stated that the Panel had consulted a number of councillors as part of the recent review and taken evidence from across the country in drawing up its recommendations and he hoped that the council would support these.  Should the recommendations be adopted then there would be a saving of £26k and he suggested this could be extended should councillors follow the Leader’s example and take a 5% cut in their allowances.  He therefore moved the recommendations.


27.3         Councillor Peltzer Dunn stated that he wished to move an amendment to the recommendations and in so doing wished to thank the Panel for their work and for taking on board the request to review their findings in light of the concerns raised previously.  He welcomed the change to the calculation of the Leader of the Council’s SRA and the recognition of the Leader of the third Group on the council.  However, he did not feel that the role of Deputy Chairs was fully understood and therefore felt that the recommendation needed to be amended to reflect the position on the council.


27.4         Councillor Mitchell stated that she wished to second the amendment and acknowledged that the matter had been back and forth between the Panel and the Council.  She thanked the Panel for the latest report and the work that had been undertaken but felt that the role of Deputy Chair of the other regulatory committees and overview & scrutiny committees had to be recognised within the scheme of allowances.


27.5         Councillor J. Kitcat noted the amendment and queried what the point of the Independent Remuneration Panel was if its recommendations were not accepted by the Council.  Having  had the views of the council reported back to it, the Panel had reviewed its findings and met with councillors before bringing its report back.  The fact that the Panel maintained a reduction in SRA’s for Deputy Chairs had to be taken on board, otherwise the question had to be raised that Members of other Groups were simply protecting the ‘grace and favour’ of their own members.  He hoped that the Panel’s recommendations would be accepted and that the amendment would not be supported.


27.6         Councillor G. Theobald stated that the level and nature of allowances was a decision for the Council and whilst he was obliged to the Panel for their work and their report, it was the Council that had to determine the level of allowances.


27.7         Councillor Mears noted that the current Members Allowances Scheme had been budgeted for and the previous Administration had achieved a balanced budget.  It was now the new Administration’s responsibility to meet the budget requirements and the Members Allowances Scheme was part of that process.  The Deputy Chairs undertook a number of duties and she believed that their role should be reflected within the scheme.


27.8         Councillor West stated that the proposed amendment effectively questioned the role of the Panel, which had been established to provide a degree of independence in the determination of allowances for Members, rather than just having councillors setting their own levels of remuneration.  He believed the consistent approach would be to accept the Panel’s recommendations at this stage and should changes occur to the decision-making structure the Panel could report further.


27.9         Councillor Randall stated that he fully supported the Panel’s recommendations and felt that the Deputy Chair’s posts that would be removed from the scheme had changed in terms of their role and questioned how the proposed amendment would be regarded by residents.


27.10    Councillor Oxley stated that he felt there was a need to take account of the level of experience held by the Deputy Chairs and the ability to gain experience that the position offered.  Whilst he acknowledged the Panel’s recommendations and fully appreciated the work that the Panel undertook, it was for the Council to determine its allowances scheme and as such he felt that the role of Deputy Chair should qualify for an SRA.


27.11    Councillor Bowden stated that he hoped councillors would accept the Panel’s recommendations and consider how their actions would be interpreted should they support the amendment, which was effectively enabling them to award themselves additional income.


27.12    Councillor Littman noted the comments and stated that he felt the arguments for the inclusion of Deputy Chairs had not been made in comparison to the Panel’s own findings and suggested that the decision should not be a political one but should be the acceptance of the Panel’s recommendations as an independent body.


27.13    The Mayor noted that an amendment had been moved by Councillor Peltzer Dunn and put it to the vote which was carried.


27.14    The Mayor then put the recommendations as amended to the vote which were carried.


27.15    RESOLVED:


(1)   That the Special Responsibility Allowances for the Leaders’ positions be payable as outlined in paragraphs 3.1 – 3.8 of the report and Appendix 6 to the report;


(2)   That the Special Responsibility Allowances for the Deputy Chairs of Regulatory Committees and Deputy Chairs of Overview & Scrutiny Committees as listed in the current scheme continue to be payable;


(3)   That the Dependants’ Carers Allowance be payable as outlined in paragraphs 3.16-3.32 of the report and appendices 3 and 4 (childcare) to the report, and 3.33-3.37 of the report and appendix 5 (dependant care) to the report;


(4)   That the 26 Special Responsibility Allowances set out in Appendix 6to this report with the addition of those set out in (2) above be approved as the full list of duties which constitutes Schedule 1 to the new Members Allowances Scheme.


(5)   That it be noted the Basic Allowance of £11,463 has been retained and that all other allowances listed in the Scheme, other than those detailed in (1) – (4) above remain unchanged;


(6)   That the Members’ Allowances Scheme 2011 set out at Appendix 7, as amended, be approved with effect from 21st October 2011.

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