Cornwall Council performs U-turn on planned increase in councillors' allowances
CORNWALL Council has performed a U-turn on a planned increase in the allowances paid to councillors after agreeing to freeze them for another year.
The council had originally voted in October to increase allowances from the current level of £12,128 to £14,600 from May.
However former council leader Alec Robertson last month tabled a motion calling for that decision to be scrapped and instead for the allowances to be frozen.
At a fiery council meeting on Tuesday Mr Robertson and his supporters were accused of electioneering ahead of polling stations opening in May.
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Liberal Democrat councillor Rob Nolan was particularly outspoken and criticised Mr Robertson for tabling the motion when he was "the most expensive councillor Cornish taxpayers had ever seen".
Mr Robertson acknowledged that hard working councillors did deserve an increase but said: "The proposers just feel strongly that now is not the time to increase allowances when budgets are under pressure like never before."
He added: "Any increases can only be bought at a cost of council jobs and services."
Steve Double, who seconded the motion, said: "With the budgets under such pressure the £310,000 that this will save will be much better used in supporting essential services for this council."
John Turner said that the motion was politically motivated and said he believed that allowances needed to be increased to encourage younger people and working age people to stand for election.
Bert Biscoe said that allowances had not increased for eight years and argued that the increase that had been agreed in October was "not unreasonable" and also agreed that it was important to encourage younger people to stand for election.
He said: "If we don't do this we will see the majority of members will be older, widowed, pensioners, Freemasons or whatever. We will not see young people, the people who are driving our society, standing for election."
Alex Folkes said that he voted against the increase in October and would stand by his decision now but accused the motion to be "all to do with the election in 78 days time".
He tabled an alternative which called for the allowances to remain at the current rate and allow the new council to make a decision on allowances after the election in May. However that was defeated with 54 voting against and 37 in favour.
Ahead of Mr Robertson's motion being voted upon one of the councillors who had signed it, Des Curnow, withdrew his support saying that it had changed substantially since he signed it.
When put to the vote it was supported with 47 for, 34 against and seven abstentions.