Democracy costs tax payers £1.2m

DEMOCRACY at Endeavour House cost council tax payers more than £1.2 million last year according to figures obtained by The Evening Star.The 80 Suffolk County Councillors received a total of £773,563 in allowances and expenses during the year.

DEMOCRACY at Endeavour House cost council tax payers more than £1.2 million last year according to figures obtained by The Evening Star.

The 80 Suffolk County Councillors received a total of £773,563 in allowances and expenses during the year.

And the council spent a further £460,578 on "democratic services" – providing staff to support councillors.

The democratic services department of the council underspent – it was budgeted to spend £515,436 during the year on 16 full-time staff.

The figures were revealed after the Star submitted a request under the Freedom of Information Act which came into force earlier this year.

We also asked for an assessment of how the costs would change following the change in administration at Endeavour House after the Conservatives took power after the election on May 5.

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It is impossible to assess what the effect on councillors' allowances will be because that depends on how much is claimed for travelling or living expenses.

However the number of councillors has gone down from 80 to 75 – and the amount paid in special responsibility payments should fall by £7,299 a year because there is now only one deputy leader.

The democratic services department is budgeted to spend £516,790 during the current financial year, but the final figure is expected to be lower than that because there are vacancies still waiting to be filled.

However the figures did not impress the county's council tax campaigners.

Tom Sully from Protest Against Council Tax in Suffolk (PACTS) was shocked when told the cost of democratic services.

He said: "What do they do? How many people do you need to send out agendas and prepare their rooms?

"If there are 16 people employed there it seems like an awful lot – and it sounds like a very large amount of money."

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