Party's councillors refuse to take controversial Hartlepool allowances increase

Councillors from a political party in Hartlepool say they will not be taking a controversial allowance increase.

Monday, 13th August 2018, 3:08 pm
Updated Monday, 13th August 2018, 4:07 pm
Hartlepool Civic Centre.

The leader of Putting Hartlepool First confirmed none of the party’s councillors in the borough took the 31% increase in basic allowance approved last year.

He also said none of its four councillors are taking the 2% increase which occured in April this year.

Coun James Black

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The latest 2% increase is part of the agreement made last year, when the council agreed to index the allowances in line with national cost of living for local government employees.

Coun James Black, leader of Putting Hartlepool First (PHF), said: “I can confirm that none of the Councillors under PHF have taken the original 31% or the additional 2% therefore PHF Councillors receive 33% less than others [who take the full allowance].”

The latest 2% increase in councillor basic allowance increased the figure from £7,792 to £7,948 per annum, which took effect from April 1 this year.

Residents hit out on the Hartlepool Mail Facebook page over the news of the basic allowance rise.

Wendy Richardson said: “Unbelievable they should give to charity instead. They get paid enough already.”

Kathleen Foster said: “Years ago councillors didn’t get paid. They were there for the people. This lot are a disgrace taking our money and doing nothing in return.”

In June last year at a meeting of Hartlepool Borough Council, members voted in favour of the 31%  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.

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

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.

A Hartlepool 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.”

Nic Marko , Local Democracy Reporting Service