Independents call for Wiltshire Council allowances to be retracted

Wiltshire Times: Cllr Jeff Osborn Cllr Jeff Osborn

Independent councillors are calling for Wiltshire Council’s controversial allowance increase to be rescinded.

The Independent Political Group, including councillors Jeff Osborn, Terry Chivers, Ernie Clark, Helen Osborn and Chris Caswill, has written to the council’s chairman, Wiltshire Councillor Christine Crisp, for an extraordinary meeting to be held. 

They oppose Wiltshire Council’s decision, made during November’s full council meeting, which has seen Wiltshire Council leader Jane Scott’s allowances increase by 36.5 per cent a year, taking them from £37,335 to £52,227.

Cabinet members’ allowances have increased by at least 22 per cent, rising from £15,101 to £18,433 a year, while councillors’ basic allowances has gone up by one per cent to £12,289 a year.

The allowance increase was proposed by the council’s Independent Remuneration Panel and was accepted following a recorded vote. A total of 53 councillors voted for the proposals, 28 were against and two abstained.

Under their constitution, for Wiltshire Council to overturn a decision made within the last six months the signatures of at least 10 councillors are needed. 

Cllr Osborn said: "It is time this issue came to a head. In some ways, I feel sorry for Jane Scott as none of her other Conservatives have come out and backed her on this which I feel is very strange."

Last week, Cllr Scott finally agreed to be interviewed about the allowance increase after refusing to answer questions on the subject for over a month.

“We are working in a more efficient way, but that does put an awful lot of pressure on all of us, both members and officers in the organisation, to deliver,” she said.

“They (the remuneration panel) wanted to make it right, not for me, but for the people who come after me.”

During the summer, the council ran a voluntary redundancy programme in which 252 front-line staff decided to leave the organisation.

While, seven of the council's 18 associate directors took voluntary redundancy, while the remaining associate directors saw their wages rise on average by 7.5 per cent.

After the council agreed to the allowance increase outraged tax payer Paul Gaunt set-up a petition calling for cllr Scott and her cabinet to resign. This has received over 2,000 signatures.

To view the petition visit www.wehavesolutions.co.uk.

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