At the full council meeting on Tuesday, the Conservatives will ignore a call from the Independent Remuneration Panel that councillors consider reducing their basic allowance by 1% in recognition that “the coming year will be a time of severe financial stringency in all sectors of the economy.”
At their Group meeting last week, the Conservative councillors voted overwhelmingly to ignore the Panel’s plea and have decided instead to keep their allowances the same as last year. Even this lot aren’t so stupid as to vote themselves another inflation busting increase just 9 weeks before the elections!
As the Panel correctly noted: “Many employees in the private sector are already subject to a wage freeze and some are being asked to accept reductions in salary”, but as all long suffering residents know, Barnet councillors are never willing to share our pain themselves.
The suggested reduction would cost each councillor a mere £99.74 off their basic allowance. Is it really asking too much to expect them to show some restraint when the warden service is being axed to save £400,000? A more warped sense of priorities you would be hard pressed to find.
By a very slender majority, the Conservatives voted to accept the Independent Panel’s recommendation to scrap the special responsibility allowance (SRA) paid to committee vice chairmen. There has never been any justification for these payments. As the Panel rightly pointed out:
“The only essential function of a Vice-Chairman is to chair a meeting or to be consulted on draft reports/minutes when the Chairman is unavailable – these are usually quite rare eventualities. Comparison with other local authorities’ SRA schemes reveals only a few cases of Vice-Chairmanships being recognised by SRAs.”But it is unlikely that the scrapping of these allowances will result in any savings for the taxpayer. A high ranking official has told Don’t Call Me Dave that council leader Lynne Hillan would like to use this money to reward the cronies who are keeping her in power, by paying a new special responsibility allowance to assistant cabinet members - even though they have no official council function.
As author Vernon Coleman put it so succinctly in his book Bloodless Revolution:
“Our politicians live in a vacuum: isolated from honour, integrity and ideas; they are a product of circumstances rather than creators of circumstances; they are without dignity, imagination, honour or respect for themselves or anyone else.”