Hartlepool councillors allowances rise AGAIN less than a year on from 31% increase

Hartlepool Civic Centre
Hartlepool Civic Centre

Councillors in Hartlepool have received a 2% rise in their basic allowance a year on from a controversial increase of almost 31%.

The move comes as part of the agreement made last year when councillors voted in favour of recommendations to increase the basic allowance they can claim by 30.8%.

Hartlepool Council Leader Christopher Akers-Belcher.''Picture: TOM BANKS

Hartlepool Council Leader Christopher Akers-Belcher.''Picture: TOM BANKS

As part of the move the council agreed to index the allowances in line with national cost of living for local government employees.

This has lead to a 2% increase in the basic allowance from £7,792 to £7,948 per annum, which took effect from April 1 this year.

A Hartlepool Borough Council spokesman said: “Last year the council approved the recommendation by the Independent Remuneration Panel to index the councillors’ basic and special responsibility allowances in line with the national cost of living increase for local government employees, and as a result there will be a 2% increase in these allowances with effect from 1st April this year.”

Council leader Coun Christopher Akers-Belcher also added it’s up to councillors whether or not they want to receive the full allowance.

Councillor John Tennant.

Councillor John Tennant.

He said: “Members can receive what they want to receive, that’s the basic allowance, whether or not people choose to have it is up to them.”

Several councillors and residents spoke out against the rises in June last year.

The 2% increase also applies to the council special responsibility allowance, which is for councillors who undertake specified additional duties as part of their role.

The special responsibility allowance is payable to councillors who are chair of the various council committees, and no more than one special allowance can be claimed by any one member.

As the chair of the finance and policy committee, Coun Christopher Akers-Belcher, now receives an allowance of £23,844, an increase from £23,376.

Meanwhile the chair of the council and other committees such as planning, regeneration, children’s services and neighbourhood services, receive an allowance of £7,948, up from £7,792.

The only committee chair with a smaller listed special responsibility allowance is the licensing chair, which is £4,768.

Independent Councillor John Tennant, who spoke out against the basic allowance rise last year, said he would not be taking the 2% increase, but it is up to others to make their own decision.

He said: “There’s little we can do about it.

“It’s beyond the council at this stage, it’s set from the central government and the public sector.

“At the end of the day it’s up to each individual if they want to take it or not.

“Personally I will not be taking it.”

In June last year at a meeting of Hartlepool Borough Council, members voted in favour of the rise by a majority of 17 for to 11 against with three abstentions.

It saw the basic allowance given to the town’s 33 councillors increased from £5,953 to £7,792 a year.

The rise was recommended by an Independent Remuneration Panel which said it was needed to attract a wider range of the people to stand for the council in Hartlepool by compensating those who work.

It also aimed to bring the area’s borough council more in line with neighbouring authorities.

Nic Marko , Local Democracy Reporting Service