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No pay rise in sight for Hertfordshire county councillors
There is no pay rise in sight for county politicians, as an independent panel voted to keep their basic allowance the same as it was in 2008.
The panel met on November 9 and January 11 to discuss councillors’ pay, and their recommendations will be discussed by the county council on February 26.
The leaders of the Conservative and Liberal Democrat group argued that councillor’s duties and responsibilities had increased, while the pay had in effect been eroded by five years of inflation.
The panel consists of Hazel Bentall, Michelle Drapeau, Paul Castle, Alan Lawrence and Elizabeth Webber.
At the November meeting, Robert Gordon, leader of the council, and Stephen Giles-Medhurst, leader of the opposition attended to help thrash out the issue of pay. The allowance schemes of a group of six county councils were compared, as was a survey of basic allowances carried out by the Taxpayers’ Alliance, and the Hertfordshire results of the National Census of Councillors 2010.
Information from North Hertfordshire District Council about travel, subsistence and carers’ allowances was also looked at.
The panel then recommended the basic allowance should be held at £9,588, the same level as in 2008/09, for the next year.
Both group leaders said they felt unable to argue for a pay rise increase in view of the continuing financial pressures, and cuts to budgets, being faced by the county council.
Councillor Gordon suggested that in different financial circumstances, a case could be made for an increase in allowance.
He said there had been an increase in responsibilities due to the transfer of public health, the creation of the Local Enterprise Partnership and the enhanced role for all members through localism. Councillor Giles Medhurst said councillors’ workload and responsibility had also increased with the Locality Budget Grants scheme and Highways Locality Budgets.
The special responsibility allowances, as well as travel and subsistence allowance, are set to remain unchanged.
The panel agreed that having one rate for both childcare and adult care did not recognise the significant difference in cost.
It recommended that childcare be set the same as minimum wage, currently £6.19 per hour, and adult care be set at £15 per hour.
The maximum lunch rate however, will remain at £7.49.