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Fresh vote over Norfolk County Council hike in allowances will be held in New Year

PUBLISHED: 14:32 22 December 2017 | UPDATED: 14:32 22 December 2017

Labour and Liberal Democrat councillors sign the motion which aims to trigger a second vote over an allowance increase for Norfolk county councillors. Pic: Steve Morphew.

Labour and Liberal Democrat councillors sign the motion which aims to trigger a second vote over an allowance increase for Norfolk county councillors. Pic: Steve Morphew.

Steve Morphew

A fresh vote over an increase in the allowances of Norfolk county councillors will be held on January 8 after being forced by opposition parties.

The Labour and Liberal Democrat leaders at County Hall had hoped to secure a second vote over the controversial decision before Christmas.

But the council’s managing director Dr Wendy Thomson told them they had left it too late, because of the rules over how many working days notice had to be given over calling an extraordinary meeting of the council.

However, councillors have now submitted their motion, calling for the allowances hike decision to be rescinded, signed by 21 councillors.

The move came after Norfolk county councillors voted to increase their basic allowances by 11pc - from £9,401 to £10,500 - and to up certain special allowances, including the leader’s allowance.

The move sparked controversy, as the council is consulting over millions of pounds of cuts, including potentially to bus subsidies, children’s centres, gritting and road maintenance.

The EDP made a front-page plea to councillors to go back on the decision saying it was the “wrong move at the wrong time”.

Now Norfolk County Council has confirmed a special council meeting will be held on January 8 to consider rescinding the decision.

Steve Morphew, leader of the Labour group, said: “I’m delighted we have a date and it gives members of the public time during the Christmas break to lobby their county councillors to do the right thing.

“Ironically in January committees finalise the budget cuts to be put to council in February. There really could be no better time to reverse this ill judged, ill timed and insensitive decision.”

Council leader Cliff Jordan, who had said he would give his increase to charity, said he wanted to fix the system for councillors who get less in allowances than counterparts on other councils.

But an independent panel, while acknowledging Norfolk councillors got less than their neighbours, had recommended that the basic allowance should remain the same, apart from any percentage increase local authority employees are awarded.

The panel also said it was mindful that the council was planning to switch to a cabinet system in May 2019, which would mean a new system of allowances would be needed, so a “fundamental review” ahead of those changes should be done next year.

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