Controversial pay rise for Wellingborough Council's leader and deputy

Cllr Griffiths leader's allowance will go up.Cllr Griffiths leader's allowance will go up.
Cllr Griffiths leader's allowance will go up.
There was a heated debate last night about whether it was right to give Cllr Martin Griffiths and Cllr Tom Partridge-Underwood a pay rise in the current climate

Welliingborough council’s leader and his second in command have been awarded a significant pay rise by a cross party group of councillors.

There were feisty speeches, accusations, internal party fallouts and support from the Labour opposition at the Wellingborough council’s first ever virtual full council meeting last night (June 16).

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After almost an hour of debate the authority decided to approve an amended version of a proposal to give leader Martin Griffiths and his deputy Cllr Tom Partridge-Underwood an uplift in their allowance.

Many of Cllr Griffiths’ own Conservative party colleagues spoke out against the original proposal which would have seen his pay increased from £9,123 to £11,405 and backdated from April last year.

The pay rise had been first proposed in March after an independent review in January which found the pay of the leader was below par compared to neighbouring authorities.

The work being done by the pair to prepare for the new unitary authority is also beind the increased pay award.

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But the proposal was called out as ‘immoral’ by some with others saying ‘now was not the right time’ to award more allowances when many residents were going through hard times due to the pandemic.

Conservative councillors Martin York, Jennie Bone, Clive Hallam and Jonathan Ekins, who had all been part of a plot last month to stage a vote of no confidence in the leader, all spoke out against the pay rise. They were joined by Labour’s Cllr Andrea Watts who pointed out residents were losing their jobs due to the pandemic and Cllr Tony Aslam who asked ‘what would people think?’

Cllr Ekins said: “We all stood as councillors to represent our constituencies. That is what we stood for. If you stood for earning extra money then you are in the wrong job. We don’t do it for an allowance.”

And Cllr Hallam said: “With everything that is going on it is wrong and immoral to think of raising allowances for two individuals.”

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Cllr Skitrell argued that there is never a good time to raise allowances, but being leader of the council was a full-time job and Cllr Griffiths should be paid even more than what was being proposed.

Opposition leader Cllr Andrew Scarborough also said Cllr Griffiths should have his allowance raised because there had been ‘explosion of work’ due to the setting up of the new council for North Northamptonshire.

Last year’s mayor Jo Beirne spoke out against the councillors who had challenged the pay rise saying she was shocked at how mean fellow councillors were being to the leader and his deputy.

In the end, an amendment by Labour’s deputy leader Brian Emerson, to remove the backdated pay and to award the payrise for this financial year (2020/21) only, was voted through with the vast majority in favour. Cllr York voted against the plan and Cllr Ekins abstained.

Cllr Tom Partridge-Underwood’s allowance will rise from £4,560 to £5,125. All councillors also receive a £4,887 allowance.

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