Hartlepool councillors vote in favour of 31% rise in their basic allowance

Our writer, no stranger to political criticism himself, feels a proposed 31 per cent rise for councillors at Hartlepool Civic Centre would be inappropriate.
Our writer, no stranger to political criticism himself, feels a proposed 31 per cent rise for councillors at Hartlepool Civic Centre would be inappropriate.

Councillors are set to get an increase in their basic allowance of almost 31%.

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 will see the Basic Allowance given to the town’s 33 councillors increased from £5,953 to £7,792 a year.

Some councillors have already said they will not take it. Angry members of the public branded the decision “disgusting”.

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 by compensating those who work.

It also said it will bring Hartlepool more in line with allowances of neighbouring councils.

Independent Councillor Paul Thompson said: “The fact we are even considering putting up the Basic Allowance for members and lining our own pockets is quite distasteful and disgraceful.”

UKIP group leader Coun John Tennant said: “We are not here to enrich ourselves, we are here out of a sense of civic duty and to achieve a better Hartlepool for residents and visitors.”

Coun James Black, of Putting Hartlepool First, said: “Let’s make Hartlepool a better place and use this money for the good of the town, not to feather the nest of certain individuals.”

But council leader Councillor Christopher Akers-Belcher said: “In Hartlepool we should be trying to create an environment where we have a rich mix of talent and expertise on the council, and that should not be predicated based on if you can afford to stand for public office.

“This proposal by the independent panel is not a pay rise, it is a proposal which will allow councillors allowances with the role they undertake.”

He added Hartlepool has the lowest allowance in the whole North East (35% lower than the average) and lowest out of the five Tees Valley authorities (28%).