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Councillors’ one per cent pay rise

Rise debate: Council leader Peter Rankin (below) and John Bruton (above) played key roles in the debate on councillor allowances at Preston Town Hall

Rise debate: Council leader Peter Rankin (below) and John Bruton (above) played key roles in the debate on councillor allowances at Preston Town Hall

Elected members of Preston Council are set to be given an increase in their allowances next year.

Councillors voted to agree to raise the basic allowance by one per cent - thought to be about £36 per year - in line with staff salary increases.

But leader Coun Peter Rankin rejected a recommendation for his to be increased from £8,844 to £10,256.

A report was put to members at last week’s full council meeting, but was amended to exclude a reduction in allowances for committee chairs, which would then increase the leader’s entitlement.

Speaking at the meeting, Coun Rankin said: “As leader I am in the lucky position that I was able to take early retirement and I have an occupational pension.

“I think for anyone else who is working, to take on this task would be just impossible and governments are constantly talking about the need to encourage younger people into local government to be councillors.

“Really we don’t seem to be able to be capable of doing that in Preston and I’m sure one of the problems is our allowances system. It does not fully compensate people who need to take time off work to do this. If you’re not in work your allowances really cause havoc with benefits and make it virtually impossible. Despite that, we’ve taken the decision to move the amended report.”

Later in the meeting, it was agreed that members no longer wanted to decide their own allowances levels, following a motion proposed by Coun John Bruton.

He said: “This notice of motion goes as far as we possibly can to distance ourselves from the decision that independent panel arrives at.”

Councillors agreed to ask officers to write to the department for communities and local government to set out their concerns and request a change in the law.

 

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