Page last updated at 17:56 GMT, Tuesday, 19 January 2010

Councillors in Cornwall vote against raising allowances

Cornwall County Hall
The new unitary authority means there are fewer councillors in Cornwall

Councillors in Cornwall have rejected proposals to increase their allowances.

A review panel had said increases were justified because it was a new unitary authority with fewer members.

If accepted, backbencher councillors working 22 hours a week would have received £14,600 a year, up from £12,000, a rise of about 20%.

Other councillors would have seen rises of up to 33%. However, the rise plan was defeated by by 92 votes to nine and allowances have been frozen for a year.

The last changes to county councillor allowances were made five years ago, when the county was governed by the then county council and six district councils.

[Councillors] are now the people lowest paid by the authority
Councillor Neil Burdon

The district councils were abolished when the new Cornwall Council unitary authority was formed, in April 2009.

The move means there are fewer councillors who can claim allowances from the public purse.

The independent review panel argued the 123 members of the new authority had more responsibility and carried out a wider range of duties.

Independent councillor Neil Burdon, who voted for the increase, said he was disappointed by the result.

He said: "Now we've got members who been elected who can't believe the workload, have quit their old jobs to do it and are now the people lowest paid by the authority.

"They are lower paid than any of our officers."

However, council leader Alec Robertson said he had believed that it was "unlikely in the present financial climate that councillors would award themselves an increase".

"That just wouldn't be acceptable," he said. "It's not about courting popularity, it's not about electioneering, it's about what's right.

"We've got priorities and our priorities are front-line services. That's where we want the money to go."

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