Minister says councillors have their 'noses in trough'
CORNWALL councillors have been told by Local Government Secretary Eric Pickles they should buy the "darkest sunglasses they can possibly get" for raising allowances paid to elected members.
The Tory minister issued the advice in response to a decision by Cornwall Council to raise the amount of money paid to councillors who will be elected in May.
Mr Pickles accused councillors at County Hall of having their "noses in the trough" after agreeing to a rise of about 20 per cent, which will increase annual basic allowances by £2,472 to £14,600.
Councillors voted for the rise saying it would increase the number of people able to stand for election, suggesting it was presently only open to those who could afford to do so.
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The increase will cost the council an extra £304,056 a year.
An independent remuneration panel set up to review the amount paid to councillors had suggested a higher increase in councillor allowances but this proposal was dismissed by councillors.
Mr Pickles this month issued another round of brutal cuts to local authority spending, which will see the authority having to find almost £30 million of savings in the next two years – cuts which critics say authorities will struggle to cope with.
Mr Pickles said: "I would suggest they spend that money on buying themselves the darkest sunglasses they can possibly get.
"And the reason they are going to need dark sunglasses is they will find it very difficult looking into the eyes of their employees who have had to endure a pay cut over a period of time.
"I believe councils should lead from the front, not put their nose in the trough."