COUNCILLORS are poised to reject the chance of a controversial personal cash boost.
A review carried out by the Independent Remuneration Panel (IRP) has recommended that Hartlepool councillors should have their basic allowances increased by £250 from £5,767 to £6,017, with further annual increases of £250 in April 2014 and April 2015.
The move sparked anger on the Mail’s website when a preview of the meeting tomorrow night was published on Saturday, and calls have been made for the increase to be flatly refused in light of pay freezes which are in place elsewhere in the public sector.
The Mail attempted to contact each of the 33 councillors to ask how they planned to vote ahead of the full council meeting, which takes place at 7pm tomorrow.
Shortly after news of Mail’s survey leaked out, the ruling Labour group moved quickly to issue a statement saying all of its 19 members would vote against the proposal.
The statement from Coun Christopher Akers-Belcher read: “Hartlepool Labour Group will always support our staff at the council as they are the cornerstone of our success. This being the case we shall be reaffirming the principle of our resolution last year (April 11) whereby elected members shall only receive an increase in their basic allowance in-line with that awarded to our staff, as and when their increase is confirmed by Government.
“The basic allowance is paid to fulfil the duties associated with the role of elected members. The Labour Group has accepted our full responsibility and would therefore suggest all opposition councillors fulfil their responsibilities too and fill the vacant positions on committees in line with their allocation rather than avoiding their responsibilities.”
Conservative leader Ray Martin-Wells also said he would register a ‘no’ vote, as did his party colleague Brenda Loynes, while Putting Hartlepool First leader Keith Dawkins and fellow members Geoff Lilley and Kelly Atkinson all said they would also vote against a rise.
PHF member David Riddle, who wrote to all councillors asking them to reject the plan, confirmed he would register a ‘no’ vote having previously made it public knowledge he was against the move.
Steve Gibbon, the fourth PHF member on the council, and Conservative George Morris were not available for comment when the Mail tried to contact them.
UKIP representative George Springer said he was not prepared to tell the Mail how he planned to vote ahead of the meeting, while the council’s other UKIP councillor, Tom Hird, said he planned to abstain.
Independent councillors Jonathan Brash, Pamela Hargreaves and Paul Thompson are all opposed to any pay hike and have pledged to vote against it, though John Lauderdale opted not to make his intentions public knowledge until he is asked for his vote at the meeting.