Two more Kent County Councillors reject 4.2% authority ‘pay’ rise

Councillors Barry Lewis and Emma Dawson have rejected the allowance increase

Two more county councillors representing Thanet say they have rejected the councillors’ allowance rise of more than 4% amid the coronavirus crisis.

Conservative councillor Emma Dawson, representing Birchington and rural division, and labour councillor Barry Lewis, for Margate, have both notified the county council that they are declining to take the ‘pay’ increase.

They join Labour’s Karen Constantine, for Ramsgate, who said she felt “uncomfortable” in taking the additional £656 per year as millions of people across the UK are furloughed or made redundant and businesses are going under during the lockdown.

She wrote to KCC’s head of governance Benjamin Watts to ask for the extra funds to be kept back just hours after Kent County Council’s full council voted through a 4.2% increase during a virtual public meeting.

Some 15 KCC members abstained during the key vote, including five Labour councillors, seven Liberal Democrats, two Conservatives and one Green party member.

A basic allowance refers to the amount of cash that councillors receive from KCC for their services throughout the year. KCC says basic allowances are not “salaries” because councillors are not full time employees.

Many KCC councillors receive higher pay for taking on extra responsibilities, such as becoming a committee chairman or cabinet member. This is reviewed annually and elected members vote on the proposal at full council.

Cllr dawson said: “I have rejected the recent KCC allowance increase this morning. I will not be receiving the new increase because of my views on the current economic crises.  The previous increase I had supported, although I donated in part to charity. I believed at the time that the increase was bringing allowances back in line with inflation as it had been frozen prior over a number of years.

“The allowance for back benchers is however, relatively low and often the allowance was not attracting the younger generation to stand as affordability of living costs could not be met. This was something I spoke about at the county council meeting at the time and about moving forward with regards to younger representatives at county level and having a broader balance of male and female members.

“The fundamental reason behind me rejecting my new increase this time is that I am certainly aware of the current times, during and post pandemic many families are finding it hard and will be hit hard with job losses, loss of businesses and furloughed on a reduced salary, some may not even be taken back into work. Many are struggling to meet their household bill payments. The economy is at a critical low point which will require time, effort and resilience to dig our way out of the huge hole.

“It is a personal view that I hold and i do not speak on behalf of any other councillors.”

Cllr Lewis says he too has informed the authority that he will not be taking the increase.

He said: “After discussions with my local residents I understand that by taking the pay rise I would not be representing their views. My constituents have, and will continue, to suffer hardships through the pandemic. As the PM said ‘we are all in this together.’”

Around £1.3million will be paid out to KCC’s 81 members. The latest increase will see the amount they receive rise from £15,561 to £16,217 for each of them.

Several councillors who abstained are seeking to donate their cash to local charities within their wards while others felt it was unethical to support a motion to increase their pay amid the public health emergency.

KCC’s leader Roger Gough (Con), who will see his pay rise from £66,000 to £70,000 for this financial year, described the system as “awkward” for members involved and said he could understand residents’ frustrations.

Additional information via Local Democracy Reporter Ciaran Duggan

18 Comments

  1. Sleepy Barry Lewis just doesn’t understand that he’s so out of touch with the electorate. No wonder Labour was shambles at the last general election. You should have done the right thing at the start, decline the rise. Not decline the rise after you’ve already accepted it because you received backlash on here and other websites.

    Also, the smokescreen that you put up about donating the rise to charity, being the reason you accepted the rise in the first place is *complete incompetence* on your part. Surely you must’ve been joking? What makes you think the electorate and residents that elected you, wanted their council tax to be donated to charity? People give to charity already, so your “donating council tax to charity”, must surely have been a JOKE! I just can’t believe you even suggested it.

    Well done to Karen Constantine, for declining the rise, from the very start.

    Oh well, it won’t be long before you lose your county council seat, 2021.

    • To be fair, the KCC increase is not ‘pay’, it is meant to be an allowance to cover expenses, which should be used for constituents, and I know that Barry and Karen do just that

    • If I was to stand for election, I wouldn’t intentionally mislead the public and I wouldn’t show complete incompetence after being elected as you’ve done throughout this term.

      I wouldn’t backtrack or lie either, something you’ve got a gold medal at.

  2. I work to pay this outrageous thieving robbing hoods
    Indeed why agree then say oh shizzle sticks better say I will donate it to charity is a wholly disgrace on both of barry and emma
    We after all are your boss and pay your wages simply most of the time for doing sod all year in year out
    cliftonville still looks like a shizzle hole and pavements full of gum and rubbish overflowing creating a health hazard which TDC say is nonsense the nonsense is your expenses
    I agree it should not have been agreed in the first place all 42 of you agreed go and do real work prove that you can make peoples lives better is that for your stamps and ink when the county you represent starve or people made homeless or suffer badly from mental health
    after all barry and emma what is here for people
    dirty fouled streets
    dirty nappy filled streets with fag butts
    chewing gum stained pavements
    signs outside aldis that make this place a disgrace on your behalf
    nothing for kids or children to do
    but shit hits the van as barry and emma get bowled out think again about your wicket keeping and scores or was it tick boxes
    with KCC saying they need £130m feck off your ex leader invested in pension funds and pots with woodford and that amounts to at least £150 million and more feck off! Angry resident

  3. Well done both. Councillor Dawson, a Conservative with a moral compass pointing in the right direction. It’s good to see.

    So, three of the Thanet KCC Councillors have done the right thing. It’s now down to Councillors Binks, Game, Hurst and Messenger to follow suit then we have a full house in Thanet at least.

    Over to you four.

  4. you did not even recognise fraud when I told you either barry
    still KCC is a fraud and no he is entitle to comment as much as you
    I would not stand ever when it is full of fraudulent shit
    woodford
    dreamland
    the buying of properties that have set up agents offshore leaks
    ramsgate sea front is offshore leaks
    I need to kick you all out it is not feckn bank barry that you can just take and say to people that you give money then piss them off either ha ha ha useless bloody useless the lot of you. Could I do a job of running this town sure I could I would have decent honest people with DBS checks and more down first and no offshore leaks fraud why have we given money to offshore leaks companies like dreamland
    offered land in cliftonville to an offshore leaks Barbara kahan Miles and Barr
    et all barry

    • With all respect Rebecca, all you go on about is offshore leaks without backing it up, it has no weight without the proof. Yes we all know the council is a joke round here and most things could be done better. Why not put it to bed and ask Isle of Thanet news to do an article on these offshore leaks that you have proof of, if not give it a rest as is the same from you on every article about the council.

  5. It will be quite interesting to see how many councillors do agree to give up all or some of their 4% rise.
    I see my pension has gone up 1.7%.

  6. If only this could become a trend. Not only amongst politicians but also amongst businessmen and major property owners. Like everybody else, they always think they DESERVE a big pay rise (we ALL do!) but that doesn’t mean we should get one.
    Next time the government reduces the taxes on the higher earners, or Corporation tax, let’s see how many refuse their money increase on the reasonable grounds that the country can’t afford to give them any more money. They might even think that, as they have been paying such low wages for so long, or that they have made hundreds redundant without suffering any loss themselves, they really should adjust their behaviour a bit and decline any more personal benefits. I won’t hold my breath.

  7. If we do not give our councillors the allowance they need then we limit the range of people who can become our representatives.

    Personal insults should not be part of this conversation. they decrease the chances of getting things done and we need a lot to be done currently.

    • Why do they need £15000 + travel expenses + £15000 to donate to local projects? My OAP is exactly half their allowance! Perhaps accepting £5000 per year + travel expenses + £10000 to donate. These figures might reflect better use of our money. KCC figures show nearly £2,000,000 being the annual cost for these people! Value for money,?

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