A Norfolk County Councillor in the Diss Express area will not take his extra allowance – despite the authority passing a pay rise of more than 10 per cent for its members this week.
Stephen Askew, a Conservative councillor who represents the Guiltcross division which includes, Banham, Garboldisham, Old and New Buckenham and the Lophams, was unable to attend the meeting – but said the decision “did not sit right with him”.
The increase in allowances, which will be backdated to May, was approved at a meeting in Norwich on Monday, despite an independent panel recommending a freeze on the payments.
The measure was passed by 39 votes to 26, largely with the support of members of the ruling Conservative group, despite widespread fury among opposition members.
Under the proposals, a councillor’s basic allowance will rise from £9,401 a year to £10,500, an increase of around 10.5 per cent.
“I have heard what happened - personally I don’t agree with it and to that end, I have already told the council that I wish mine to remain as it is - I don’t want to take an increase,” he told the Diss Express.
I understand the arguments for it, but I feel in the climate of cuts and hardship, I personally can’t justify it myselfStephen Askew, Norfolk County Councillor, Guiltcross
“I understand the arguments for it, but I feel in the climate of cuts and hardship, I personally can’t justify it myself.
“It is a decision for others to make for their own personal situations. It does not sit right with me.”
When asked if he could understand the public’s largely negative reaction to the increase, he responded: “Absolutely.”
Overall, the package will cost taxpayers more than £140,000, at a time when the authority says it needs to save £125 million from its budget over the next four years and is consulting on plans to raise its portion of council tax by nearly five per cent next year.