Tory councillors in North Hertfordshire have voted for bumper £325,000 allowances while cutting services and forcing some staff onto a pay freeze. Conservative Lynda Needham will see her leader’s package jump more than 40%, bringing her total pay to £17,100 – exclusing other expenses.
While cuts will see £1.5m axed from public services in the district, the decision amounts to a total increase of more than £65,760 for councillors: more than four times the salary of some jobs currently on offer with the authority. The level of increase was met with vocal opposition from both Labour and Liberal Democrats groups.
The move also sees Tories cooking the books. Documents seen by Scrapbook show the increase has been classified as “investment” to avoid going over their own budget cap:
Adding to the base budget would increase the budget gap currently identified in the Medium Term Financial Strategy by this amount and require additional efficiencies tobe made. This increase could, however, be treated as an investment decision and Members will recall that there is an allowance of £250,000 in the existing MTFS to accommodate such increases in expenditure.
Official council papers also note: “It is recognised, that in light of the current difficult financial position, there is a risk that there will be negative comments from press and public on any increase in Member’s allowances.”
No sh*t, Sherlock!