‘A disgrace and a scandal’ – Conservative councillors in North Herts vote themselves a pay rise of more than 10 per cent

The leader of North Herts District Council Lynda Needham.

The leader of North Herts District Council Lynda Needham. - Credit: Archant

It’s a scandal – that’s the view of North Herts Labour group’s leader after Conservative councillors voted themselves a pay rise last night amounting to more than 10 per cent.

Councillors voted to have their members allowances rise from £4,500 to £5,000 at a meeting of North Herts District Council for the forthcoming tax year 2017/18.

Out of the 49 elected councillors from the district, the 12 Labour members and three Liberal Democrats voted not to take up the pay rise.

However, the majority Conservatives voted for the £500 increase – which equates to a hike of more than 10 per cent.

Labour leader Frank Radcliffe told the Comet: “It’s a scandal.

“In this age of austerity – when playgrounds and sports facilities are being closed, when the NHS is under attack, when community groups and weaker sections of our society face all sorts of challenges from closures and budget cuts – this decision is an utter disgrace.

“When Tories say: ‘We’re all in together they are clearly not.

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“Every Labour and Lib Dem councillor voted against it – as it is morally wrong.”

Former North Herts District Councillor David Leal-Bennett added: “I believe you should become a councillor to do good in your community that you represent – not for monetary gain.”

A Conservative voter who lives in the area told the Comet: “I’m a true-blue Tory, but frankly this is a disgrace, it’s hypocritical.

“They should remember who put them there.”

It is understood the leader of the council, Lynda Needham, will now be paid £15,000 – up from £12,600 – which equates to a rise of more than 20 per cent. The council, which may be required to save more than £7 million in budget cuts by 2020/21, justified the pay rises of between 10 and more than 20 per cent by saying: “All elected members are paid a basic allowance each year and this is in recognition of the time, work and costs involved relating to the work they do as local councillors, representing their constituents, travelling round the district, attending council and local community meetings.

“The Member’s Allowance Scheme is based on the rules set out in national legislation and the levels of allowances paid are formulated by an external independent remuneration panel who report to the council on what is appropriate and is based on comparisons with other comparable councils.

“The Member’s Allowances were last increased on 1 April 2010.”