Could another allowances rise be on the cards for Norfolk's county councillors?
PUBLISHED: 12:32 22 April 2019 | UPDATED: 08:52 23 April 2019
County councillors in Norfolk could be set for fresh controversy over their allowances.
In December 2017, members of Norfolk County Council voted, by 39 votes to 26, with two abstentions, to increase their basic allowances from £9,401 to £10,500 a year.
The leader's special responsibility allowance also went up to £31,700 from £27,495, while the chairs of adult social care and children's services committees went up from £13,747 to £14,809.
It was a hugely controversial move, as it went against the advice of an independent remuneration panel.
That panel had recommended an increase of one per cent and advised, as the council was looking to switch to a cabinet system, it would be unwise to increase the basic allowance further at that point.
The panel had agreed to review the allowances after six months of the new system and to collect data on what future recommendations could be made.
But, the late Cliff Jordan, leader at County Hall at the time, went against the advice and proposed increases, saying those serving in Norfolk got less than comparable counties.
And, with the council due to move from a committee system back to a cabinet system - where eight councillors, along with the leader and deputy, have specific portfolios they are responsible for - the independent panel is due to make a fresh recommendation over whether that means allowances should change.
Conservative leader Andrew Proctor, who was one of 26 councillors who voted against the last increase, faced questions about another potential rise at a recent full council meeting.
Liberal Democrat group leader Dan Roper asked him: “Does he agree with me that any increase in the size of the executive should not be borne by the taxpayer?
“Does he further agree with me that it would be totally unacceptable to the public of Norfolk if the overall budget for members' allowances is increased?”
Mr Proctor replied it was up to the independent remuneration panel to come up with proposals.
He said: “They will need to come up with their views for what they think is appropriate for the administration and relevant allowances and we will need to look at that as time goes on.”
A number of Labour and Lib Dem councillors donated their increase to good causes.