Conservative Home website reports that Devon County Council, where the Conservatives won control two weeks ago, is slashing the allowances paid to councillors by £80,000 a year. According to the report:
Savings include a freeze on basic allowances, scrapping a scrutiny committee which paid allowances to its chairman and vice chairman and which duplicated other committees, scrapping allowances for six councillors to support the executive councillors, reducing the leader's special responsibility allowance from £27,425 a year to £25,000 and that of the deputy leader from £21,940 to £20,000.Barnet Council also has a leader who claims to be tough on cost cutting, yet Mike Freer flew business class to America at our expense and gave his buddy Brian Coleman a £10,000 legal indemnity to hire a top legal firm even though the council’s insurers were willing to provide a free solicitor. Freer also allowed senior officers to go on junkets to the south of France, spend tens of thousands on wide screen televisions, and most recently spend £31,000 on a room booking system which could have been bought for just £2,000.
Of course the £80,000 saving in the context of the total Council budget is tiny. That is not the point. By making savings themselves the Council leadership will be emboldened in seeking them elsewhere. The new Council leader Cllr John Hart has pledged to “getting tough on administrative costs and waste wherever we can.”
Can you imagine Freer or Coleman agreeing to vote themselves a reduction in their allowances? Between them, they actually make some MPs seem quite frugal.