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Cut in council seats will save Three Rivers taxpayers £25,000 a year
Tax payers' bill for policitians in Three Rivers is coming down by around £25,000 a year following the reduction in council seats, latest figures have shown.
In 2012/2013 the council paid out £224,280 to councillors in basic allowances, but since the number of politicians in the district was reduced, the council expect to pay £200,690.
In October, the Electoral Commission redrew the boundaries across the district, meaning that the number of councillors was reduced from 48 to 39.
Currently, councillors are paid a basic allowance of £4,581 and the Independent Members’ Remuneration Panel- a group made up of members of the public recommended that there should not be a rise in councillor pay.
Councillors accepted the recommendations put forward by the panel.
But at the annual council meeting on Tuesday night, councillors clashed over the "special responsibility allowance" that the Labour group leader, councillor Stephen Cox receives.
The independent panel recommended that the Labour leader receive a smaller proportion of a money which is given to the leaders of the opposition to help them carry out their role.
Councillor Cox said: "I disagree with the last recommendation of the Independent Members’ Remuneration Panel and I disagree with a heavy heart.
"We do feel that, really, that they should look again at this last recommendation.
In a surprise move, the Conservatives backed a Labour motion and forced a vote on whether the panel should reconsider the cut to the special responsibility allowances, but this was defeated by the Liberal Democrat majority.
This now means that the "main opposition leader" in Three Rivers District Council, Tory Ralph Sangster, will receive an additional £3,054 on top of his basic salary but Councillor Cox, who is classed as an "other opposition leader" will receive a "proportion of £3,054" and this will be based on the number of seats the party has in the council.
Currently, the Labour party has three seats.
Councillor Ty Harris (Conservative) said: "The recommendation for the "other opposition leaders" special responsibility allowance is disproportionate and unfair compared to party leaders with a larger number of seats, and suggests the number of seats held by a party is relevant to the special allowance.
When discussing the recommendations by the panel, Liberal Democrat Councillor, Matthew Bedford said: "I think it is very difficult for members of this council to pick and choose which items to accept. It is the start of a slippery slope if we start if we choose to agree with some of the recommendations but not this one.
"We have it as an independent panel for a reason. I think we want to support the recommendations as they are put forward by the panel."
After the meeting, Councillor Bedford added: "I think they will be able to function as effectively as before. They will still be able to attend meetings, table amendments or propose a budget."
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