Voter payback warning over councillors rise in Cornwall
Councillors in Cornwall who raised their pay by 20 per cent could pay the price at the ballot box, a government minister has suggested.
Brandon Lewis branded the £2,472 increase in allowances a "very, very odd decision" given the current economic climate, but said it was a matter for the county.
His criticism came during an evidence session to the Commons Local Government Select Committee, which is holding an inquiry into councillors and the community.
It came after a majority of members on the authority recently voted to award themselves a rise, at an extra cost to the taxpayer of £304,056 a year. But the increase to the current allowance of £14,600 will not take immediate affect and will not necessarily benefit those who backed it.
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It will only come into force after the council elections next May.
Speaking to MPs at Westminster, the Tory Local Government minister said of the 20 per cent rise in Cornwall: "In the current climate, that is a very unusual decision to be looking to take. Councils should be looking quite carefully at that, particularly at a time when every household is squeezed.
"If we are looking at councils to play their part and then they put up allowances, there is a question mark."
When tackled over his criticism, Mr Lewis said: "I am just saying I think it is a very, very odd decision to make in an economic climate like this, and the ballot box generally tends to do a pretty good job of dealing with those situations.
"But if Cornwall feels it is doing the right thing and the people of Cornwall think that is the right thing to do, that is fine for Cornwall."
The amount agreed by councillors was less than originally suggested in a report by the Independent Remuneration Panel, which stated that allowances in Cornwall should be increased to £16,200 a year to attract a more broad range of people.