Leader set to reject 18 per cent cash rise

PHOTO : DAVID HURST'Labour Leader of Preston Council, Councillor Peter Rankin
PHOTO : DAVID HURST'Labour Leader of Preston Council, Councillor Peter Rankin
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The leader of Preston Council is set to turn down a rise in his allowances of 18.6 per cent.

An independent panel has recommended that Coun Peter Rankin’s allowance be increased from £8,933 to £10,595.

But Coun Rankin has said he will be refusing the extra cash, saying it would be “wrong” to accept it.

A report from the independent remunerations panel is due to be discussed by the council next week.

It recommends that allowances for councillors be increased by 2.2 per cent for a two-year period, in line with staff salaries.

It would mean a rise from £3,603 to £3,682.

It also recommends the 18.6 per cent increase in the allowance for the council leader.                                                                                   

But Coun Rankin said: “I simply cannot accept the proposed increase to the leader’s allowance. 

“Being leader is a busy and demanding job as Preston is the biggest district authority in Lancashire. 

“However, as the council is under huge pressure to cut services and save money, it would be wrong to accept such a large increase to the leader’s allowance at a time of financial austerity. 

“Council workers have just accepted a two-year pay deal of 2.2 per cent and this is the benchmark for us as councillors too.

“This, I believe, is an acceptable increase for allowances. 

“I am grateful that the independent panel has recognised the council leader’s workload and the fact that Preston’s leader receives a lower allowance than all but one of the district leaders in Lancashire.

“However, despite that, I cannot agree with the decision of the panel.

“I would like to put forward an amendment rejecting the proposed increase in the leader’s allowance and proposing that the 2.2 per cent increase applies across the board. 

“If this proposal is accepted by Labour group colleagues then the amendment will be put to council. I hope it will have their unanimous support.” 

The highest paid Lancashire district council leader allowance is Peter Gibson in Wyre who is awarded £16,236.