Fenland Council backs independent review to freeze allowances for members but disagrees over payments for chairmen of two key committees
- Credit: HARRY RUTTER
The 39 councillors on Fenland Council will not be getting an increase after they voted in agreement with an independent panel that recommended the basic allowance should stay at £4,818 a year.
But the council has tweaked two of the recommendations from its independent remuneration panel (IRP) when it comes to the extra allowance for the chairman of its planning committee and its overview and scrutiny panel.
The panel felt the extra £8,000 paid to each should drop to £5,000 but the council accepted a recommendation from leader Chris Boden it should drop by only £1,000 a year to £7,000.
"It was clear following interviews with members that these two positions are of considerable importance and there is a clear demarcation of the level of responsibility and work required to perform these roles," said the IRP.
It justified the larger allowances that both posts attract, said the IRP, but they felt that by reducing them to £5,000 it would align them more closely with the money paid by neighbouring councils.
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The panel had also recommended councillors sitting on various boards of the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Combined Authority might be considered for some form of extra payment at some stage. The IRP felt a letter should go to the combined authority saying it was their responsibility to make these payments if such a policy was introduced.
However Cllr Boden argued, successfully, against a letter being sent after pointing out that under the devolution deal for Cambridgeshire the combined authority is prohibited from making such payments.
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The IRP was made up of marketing consultant and magistrate Amanda Orchard, business consultant and magistrate Gerard Dempsey and a local resident Carol Hart.
During their work on the report they looked back at similar reports from 2011 and 2015 and spoke to 19 councillors.
One change, however, is for co-opted members of the conduct committee who previously received an allowance of £500 a year. This will drop to £140 through not being called up so frequently,
In 2018/19 "the co-optee was not required to attend any meetings," says the IRP. "The panel recognised that the changes to the standards regime have resulted in a reduction in the amount of work for the conduct committee due to a national streamlining of processes".
The council also agreed planning committee members should now receive an allowance of £500 a year, as recommended by the IRP.