Council leader welcomes proposed changes to allowances

Derbyshire County Council Leader Anne Western has welcomed a report by an independent panel backing changes to allowances for some councillors.

The council’s Independent Remuneration Panel – made up of three business people, a professor and a magistrate – advises the council on changes to councillors’ allowances and expenses.

Councillor Western said: “In May we streamlined the cabinet from nine to six members which has allowed us to create an effective, efficient and strong structure to face the difficult decisions that lie ahead.

“I am pleased the panel has given its backing to changes in allowances to reflect extra responsibilities for the Deputy Leader and a smaller number of cabinet members and also for our deputy cabinet members.

“It’s important to stress that we are not changing the basic allowance for our 63 councillors or the Council Leader – there has been no increase in the councilllors’ basic allowance scheme since 2001.”

She added: “Together with changes to the Chair’s office – including stopping plans by the previous administration to recruit a chauffeur and purchase two new civic cars – these plans will save taypayers £15,000.”

The Independent Remuneration Panel also agreed with the council’s proposals to:

* make reductions of one to two per cent to allowances paid to chairs of scrutiny committees

* reinstate a scrutiny committee to keep a close watch on what is happening to NHS services, the impact on local people and to challenge and test any proposed changes to local health services

* provide a special responsibility allowance for the Chair and Vice-Chair of a new committee formed from two smaller committees to improve management of the council’s pensions and investments.

But the panel does not support the council’s proposal to reduce the allowance for the leader of the main opposition. In 2012 the previous council administration voted to raise the opposition leader’s allowance by £6,500.

Councillor Western commented: “The previous administration agreed a significant increase in the leader of the opposition’s allowance.

“At the time I was the opposition leader and I refused to accept the increased allowance. Our proposal is simply to restore the opposition leader’s allowance to its original level.”

The report of the Independent Remuneration Panel will be considered by a full Council meeting on 2 October 2013.