Fury as report recommends pay rise for Sunderland councillors
By Niall Hodson
Liberal Democrat councillors on Wearside are calling on the Leader of the Council to join them in rejecting a recommendation for a pay rise for all 75 Sunderland city councillors.
A report made public this week by Sunderland's 'Independent Remuneration Panel' - which makes suggestions for how much local councillors receive in allowances and expenses - has recommended an across the board pay rise for all 75 Sunderland councillors.Wearside Liberal Democrats have reacted with fury, arguing that any pay rise for councillors cannot be justified at the same time as Council bosses are proposing slashing services and hiking council tax in their forthcoming council Budget.
If the report's recommendations are approved it would mean the current basic allowance for councillors would increase to £8,536 a year.
It would also mean Special Responsibility Allowances of up to £37,667 would still be paid to councillors who are cabinet members, deputy cabinet members, attend committees and boards, or those serving as Mayor or Deputy Mayor.
Councillors would remain eligible to claim up to 45p per mile for car travel to and from meetings; and up to £10.59 for an evening meal and £8.55 for lunch. Liberal Democrats are the only party on Sunderland Council whose members refuse to claim any expenses.
Commenting, leader of the Liberal Democrat group on Sunderland Council Niall Hodson said:
"Local residents understand that the Council has less money than it used to, but what we don't understand is why some councillors in Sunderland think they are immune from cuts in spending.
"In addition to a 2% pay rise for all 75 city councillors, ruling Labour councillors in charge of Sunderland City Council aren't planning to cut a single penny from their own pay packets at the same time as vital services continue to be slashed, council tax is set to rise again, 60 redundancies of council staff are planned - and when millions is being wasted each year renting new civic centre offices on the Vaux site.
"Liberal Democrats are calling on the Council's Labour bosses to commit, now, to rejecting this pay rise for councillors.
"In addition we think the cuts to councillor allowances must go much further, and that travel, food and home broadband expenses for councillors scrapped entirely.
"That's why we want all parties on the Council to back our plan to see £250,000 axed from councillor allowances claims every year but cutting paid committee chair roles, slashing non-jobs like Deputy Cabinet Members and an end to the 'jobs for the boys' mentality that means almost every Labour councillor receives a Special Responsibility Allowance to top up their incomes at Council Taxpayers' expense."