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Stockton Council leader recommends cut in allowances
1:06pm Sunday 24th February 2013 in News
THE leader of Stockton Borough Council has recommended councillors' allowances be frozen for the second year in a row to save about £35,000.
However, the move, by Councillor Bob Cook, Labour leader of the council, has been criticised by the Conservative councillor for Yarm, Mark Chatburn, as not going far enough.
And the Conservative group leader at the authority, Councillor Ken Lupton, said a complete review of the governance arrangements of the council was needed.
Last year, Coun Cook cut the "pay" of leading councillors, like cabinet members and party leaders, by four per cent and froze ordinary councillors' £9,300 allowances.
This year, it was expected there would be a one per cent rise in councillors' allowance money, in line with an expected one per cent rise in council workers' pay, which is itself below inflation.
However, Coun Cook will instead recommend another freeze across the board for councillors at the full council meeting on Wednesday.
He said: "It's not a lot of money in the big scheme of things, but it all goes in the pot and we have to do all we can."
Coun Lupton said the council's cabinet should undertake a complete review of the governance arrangements and the number of councillors, which could result in significant reductions in costs.
He said: "This is the only area of council activity that has not been scrutinised in the last seven years and it is unfair to staff who have been subject to significant changes to their employment conditions and working practices."
Coun Chatburn said his personal opinion was there should be a cut in councillors' allowances across the board.
In his blog, he said: "Instead of a freeze, I would like to see allowances paid to councillors cut. A five per cent reduction in allowances across the board would see savings of around £40,000."
The basic councillor allowance in Redcar and Cleveland Council is higher than Stockton at £9,550.
However, in neighbouring Hartlepool, it is only £5,767, in Darlington, £8,207 and in Middlesbrough £6,130.
Darlington will freeze its allowance this year and the other councils are still considering the issue ahead of setting this year's budgets.
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