Public protest to be held in Margate over whopping 15% county councillors’ allowance rise

A protest will be held in Margate on Saturday to demonstrate against the whopping 15% allowances rise that Kent County Councillors awarded themselves last week.

Kent County Council  reviewed the remuneration for its 81 councillors – 7 in Thanet -, which has been frozen since 2008.

An independent panel had suggested a 1.5% rise but KCC agreed to reinstate 1.5% in the basic allowance which had been cut in 2008 and agreed an allowance increase of 13.6%. The Special Responsibility Allowances for cabinet members and committee chairpersons will increase by 9.6%.

The rise means allowances will stand at £14,725 for members and £48,425 for  council leader Paul Carter.

Cllr Carter said: “Councillors of this authority have been extremely restrained over the last eight years, having frozen their allowances since 2008 and indeed also taken a significant voluntary reduction.

“This has saved the authority in the region of £1.5m over the last eight years.

“(This) award is still significantly below the national average pay increase and below the staff budget increases for KCC staff.”

The hike has been slammed by Labour members representing Thanet.

Karen Constantine

County Councillor for Ramsgate Karen Constantine said: “How can councillors who supported and voted for this increase look their residents in the eye? So many of those who we represent are struggling with the Conservative government’s austerity measures. Many are the public sector workers on whom we all rely. None of these groups of workers are receiving anything like 15%. Public sector pay is capped at 1%. Public sector workers are increasingly demoralised.”

She said her rise will be used “to fund local community campaigning and political campaigning.”

The hike was also slammed by UKIP district cabinet member for operational services, Suzanne Brimm, at a full council meeting last week.

She berated the rise, urging county councillors to give their share to Thanet causes, saying the hike amounted to £155,525.

She added: “That could have employed 7 street sweepers, paid for 3 skate parks and three play areas.”

After the meeting Cllr Brimm added if leader Paul Carter’s rise was included the total would come to just under £250,000 – another two and a half road sweepers.

The protest, organised by The Peoples’ Assembly, will be held outside Margate library at 10.30am this Saturday.

Allowances timeline

July 2001 County Council agreed the Member Remuneration Panel recommendation to increase the basic allowance to £11,000 and for the Leader of the Council to £35,000.

2003/04 – Basic allowance of £11,330 inclusive of an element for pensions, personal computers, telephones, other home office equipment and routine subsistence expenditure on KCC duties. Leader’s Special Responsibility Allowance £36,050.

2005 – 2009 The Basic Allowance increased to £12,000. The Leader’s SRA increased from £35,000 to £41,000.

June 2009: County Council agreed the Member Remuneration Panel recommendation for the period of June 2009 to the election in May 2013. Basic allowance £13,000, Leader of the Council £44,300.

May 2011: The council’s Medium Term Financial Plan for 2011-13 included a target of savings in “Members’ Allowances and Overheads” of £200,000 in 2011/12. The result was a reduction of the basic allowance of 1.5% from £13,000 to £12,805; and the Leader’s SRA was also voluntarily reduced by around 5% from £44,300 to £42,109.

2013 – 2017 Members agreed to adopt the Independent Remuneration Panel’s recommendations to maintain the Basic and Special Responsibilities Allowance at the levels set for at the end of the 2009 – 2013 Members’ Allowances Scheme ie. £12,805 for members and £42,109 for the Leader.

2017 – Member agree an allowance increase of 13.6% plus the reinstated 1.5%, taking it to £14,725 for members and  £48,425 for the Leader.