Councillors set to vote through 5pc cut in their allowances

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COUNCILLORS face a five per cent cut in their allowances and will also have to buy their own parking permits or pay public transport fares to get to meetings under proposals made by an independent panel.

Members of Doncaster Council will debate the ideas put forward by its Independent Remuneration Panel today and it is expected the measures will be approved after they were supported by the Labour group.

The panel, which was set up by the council earlier this year to examine the issue of members’ allowances, says its proposals will save around £102,000 a year from the current total pay-out of £1,227,940.

Under the scheme, the 63 elected councillors would see their basic allowance fall from the current £12,715 to £12,000 a year. The elected mayor’s allowance would fall from £75,000 a year to £60,000.

The current Mayor of Doncaster, English Democrat Peter Davies, who has decided to take £30,000 in allowances, said: “Doncaster’s allowances are certainly at the higher end when compared to a number of other local authorities.

“I’m not here to gain from financial reward having already taken a pay cut and have no regrets about that. Given the cost cutting times that we live in, everyone, including councillors, is faced with having to make sacrifices and I hope members will accept the proposed recommendations which are more than reasonable.”

Today’s meeting will hear from the chairman of the Independent Remuneration Panel, Keith Marriott, who will explain to members why they should vote themselves a pay cut.

The decrease in allowances would see basic pay-outs reduce to below the level currently paid in Rotherham, where members receive £12,130, but its above Barnsley, which pays £10,426.

The Deputy Mayor, Conservative Patricia Schofield, would see the biggest cut, with her pay falling 40 per cent from £44,000 at present to £25,000. Other cabinet members will see a smaller cut from £25,430 to £24,000.

Mr Marriott’s report, which he will present to today’s meeting, says: “In comparing the allowances paid by Doncaster Council with those paid in a number of other local authorities, the panel note that the basic rate currently paid remains the highest among those selected for comparison.

“It is recommended that a general reduction of approximately five per cent should be made to the basic rate.”

Mr Marriott will also recommend that the authority scrap public transport passes and car parking permits which councillors currently receive.

The council has recently been embroiled in a row with public sector unions after a scheme to make employees pay for their car parking spaces was unveiled as a way of meeting Government austerity measures.

Mr Marriott’s report adds: “The panel note that bus passes and car parking permits are currently being provided at considerable cost to the authority and which might also be available for private use.

“Having reviewed these arrangements we believe that it is inappropriate that public transport passes and free or subsidised parking facilities should be provided to members as these are elements of travel within the borough and such expenses are taken into account when calculating the basic allowance.”

The reductions in allowances have been dismissed by union leaders as a “gesture”, with Unison, which has staged two strikes, saying councillors were trying to “pre-empt” criticism.

But the leader of the majority Labour group, Coun Sandra Holland, said: “Labour councillors have already voluntarily frozen their allowances for the last year.

“Labour councillors work extremely hard representing their constituents motivated by public service and not financial reward. However, in these times of cuts we must and will make sacrifices along with everyone else.”

martin.slack@ypn.co.uk