September 22 2014 Latest news:
by Myron Jobson, Reporter
Thursday, September 4, 2014
Brent councillors could receive a 25 per cent increase in pay despite a host of swingeing cuts being made across services to tackle a £53 million budget shortfall.
Brent Council are planning to increase allowances for councillors by 25 per cent – while services are being cut across the borough.
If the proposals to raise the payments from £7,974 to £10,000 are given the go ahead, it will cost taxpayers an extra £127,638 a year.
The suggestion from the council’s director of legal and procurement will affect all 63 elected members in the borough and is being carried out despite the town hall making £53million worth of cuts in the next two years.
Plans have also been revealed for a rise in the additional allowances paid to members of the cabinet including the leader of the council.
The increase has been suggested two months after the council revealed that from next year it will charge residents an annual fee of £40 to have their garden waste collected.
Graham Durham, from Brent Fightback, an organisation that campaigns against council cuts, said: “Brent Council has closed libraries, reduced services to the most vulnerable and cut youth provision and has one of the worst housing records in Britain, with families spending illegal lengths of time in temporary bed and breakfast. In this context the 25 per cent pay increase for councillors, which many are paid on top of full-time employment, is an utter disgrace.
“Most Brent citizens are finding it hard to survive and their wages are held down. If ever there was a case of one law for us and one for them, this is it.”
However, Wembley resident Martin Francis, said an increase could result in the best candidates coming forward to become councillors.
He added: “Compared to the salaries of some Brent Council officers it is tiny and an adequate allowance enables people with families and mortgages to reduce working hours and devote more time to the work of a council, to the benefit of residents.
“But I believe that it is important that councillors earn that money by doing their job well: attending meetings, reading documentation, responding promptly to residents and tackling casework.
“At present there is a great variability in councillor performance that needs to be addressed between elections.”
A spokesman for Brent Council said the changes would be funded from existing budgets.
He added: “Providing such allowances ensures that local democracy does not become the preserve of the privileged few who can afford to give their time for free.’’
The new proposals will be discussed during the council meeting on Monday. If voted through, the change will come into effect in June next year.