Councillor Isobel Seccombe moved the recommendations as set out in the report. In doing so, she explained that Members allowances were indexed to increase in-line with the percentage pay award to employees but that this year, employees had received a flat rate increase which was not compatible with the Members’ scheme. She pointed out that Members’ allowances should be provided at a reasonable rate to attract a broad spectrum of people to stand for election. After considering the options, Group Leaders had considered that the average pay increase for a Warwickshire County Council employee (6%) was reasonable. It was also important to future proof the Members’ Allowance scheme against a similar situation in subsequent years. Councillor Seccombe recognised that it was not an easy time to vote for an increase in pay but she was conscious that she did not want councillors to find difficulty in fulfilling their democratic roles.
Councillor Peter Butlin seconded the recommendation and reserved the right to speak.
Councillor Chilvers proposed that an additional paragraph be added to the Motion at point 2 as follows:
“Requires all Groups to submit details of which councillors receive spokespersons allowances, for what role and what sum and that this information is published by the Council annually.”
In moving the above amendment, Councillor Chilvers stated that he supported the principle of the report which provided for allowances that would allow candidates to consider how they would manage financially if they were elected, perhaps by negotiating a reduction in hours with their employer knowing that the allowance would bridge any gap. The amendment focussed on the spokesperson pot and sought greater transparency of its use and publishing this in line with other allowances.
Councillor Will Roberts seconded the amendment and reserved the right to speak.
Councillor Seccombe accepted the amendment as friendly.
Councillor John Holland supported the proposal and welcomed the transparency that was being offered. He supported the ethos of a fair day’s wage for a fair day’s work and recognised the need for diversity in elected representation. He considered it would be dangerous to democracy if only retired people with a private pension could afford to stand for election because whilst employers were required to give time off for democratic duties, they were not obliged to do so with pay. He noted that Councillors did not have to claim all their allowance.
Councillors Bill Gifford considered this was a sensible approach and Councillor Clare Golby welcomed the amendment.
A vote was held and the motion (as amended) was agreed by a majority.
That Council notes the report and recommendations of the Independent Remuneration Panel set out at Appendix 1 of the report and
1. approves the recommendations as set out in Section 1.7 of the report;
2. requires all Groups to submit details of which councillors receive spokespersons allowances, for what role and what sum and that this information is published by the Council annually; and
3. authorises the Strategic Director for Resources to make such amendments to the current Scheme as are required as a result of the decision of Council