Brent’s sole Lib Dem councillor to donate allowance increase to ward fund

Helen Carr

Helen Carr - Credit: Archant

Brent’s sole Liberal Democrat councillor has pledged to donate a 25 per cent increase in her basic allowance to her ward’s working fund.

Councillors voted to raise basic payments for all 63 members from £7,974 to £10,000 on Monday.

Cllr Helen Carr, who represents the Mapesbury ward, was one of only four councillors – the other three were Brondesbury Park Conservatives– to vote against the motion.

She said: “I would feel embarrassed to accept an increase. I do not think it is appropriate to implement the change months after the election. I hope residents in my ward would benefit from the extra funding in the ward working kitty.”

The rise in allowances will cost taxpayers £127,638 a year – while £53million worth of cuts will take place in the borough in the next 24 months.

The council claims the increase will be funded from existing budgets.

Criticising the move, Graham Durham, from Brent Fighback, previously told the Times: “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.

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“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.”

Cllr Muhammed Butt, leader of the council, said that the increase was a fraction of what had been recommended by London Councils – the local government association for Greater London.

He said: “We must ensure that becoming a councillor is an opportunity available not just for the privileged few, but to people representative of our diverse borough – single parents, carers, pensioners, professionals, young people. Only by approving a modest allowance increase can we ensure this.”