Increase of more than £800 in allowances for Wellingborough councillors

The meeting was held at Swanspool House in Wellingborough last night (Tuesday)
The meeting was held at Swanspool House in Wellingborough last night (Tuesday)

Councillors have voted to increase their allowances by more than £800 a year.

Members of Wellingborough Council have agreed to the rise from April 1 this year, the first since members’ allowances were last reviewed in May 2009.

Cllr Tim Maguire voted against the increase

Cllr Tim Maguire voted against the increase

But it wasn’t an anonymous decision with 17 councillors voting in favour, nine against and two abstentions.

Labour councillor Tim Maguire said he can’t understand the increase at a time when the borough council is looking to increase its council tax precept by £5 and amid the financial crisis facing Northamptonshire County Council.

Cllr Maguire, who is one of the Irchester ward councillors, said: “I think it’s absolutely disgusting.

“Nine Labour members voted against it.

“I couldn’t vote this through, I just think it’s wrong.”

Cllr Maguire said reasons put forward for the increase included that councillors are doing a lot more work and some say it costs them to be a councillor.

But he added: “I am the poorest councillor there is.

“I struggle, but some of the councillors who spoke last night are not poor.

“They have got big flash cars and personalised number plates.

“We have got homeless people in Wellingborough and people going to food banks and then there’s us getting an increase of £800 a year.”

Cllr Maguire spoke on the matter at yesterday’s (Tuesday) meeting, and says he also spoke on the same issue in 2009 when the allowances were last reviewed.

He said: “It’s no wonder politicians, councillors and MPs get bad names when this happens.

“We are all going to be tarred with the same brush.

“None of us in the Labour group wanted to take the pay rise.”

A statement from Wellingborough Council following the meeting said: “Most councils review members’ allowances on an annual basis, but this council made a decision to freeze allowances in 2009, in the same way that council staff salaries had been frozen nationally.

“It was agreed that a review of allowances should be carried out now to ensure that the council had adopted a scheme of members’ allowances that adequately supports members in fulfilling the council’s priorities.

“This was carried out by a completely independent panel who made recommendations which took into account the voluntary nature of the role of councillor.

“The recommendations of the panel were accepted at the council meeting last night, with a vote of 17 in favour, nine against and two abstentions.

“There were seven apologies for absence and the mayor did not vote.”

The basic allowance in Wellingborough was £3,440.

This was about 25 per cent below that paid at nearby authorities of similar size and character, with Kettering’s basic allowance being £5,394 and £5,010 in South Northants.

The basic allowance will now be increased to £4,300.