Suffolk residents unhappy with proposed councillor allowance increases
PUBLISHED: 21:00 17 January 2020 | UPDATED: 16:33 20 January 2020
Picture: RIDUNA HOLDINGS
Proposals for councillors in East Suffolk to hike their allowances up by £2,600 has prompted a wave of public anger.
A poll conducted on the EADT website found 87% of 226 respondents were opposed to the increase, with only a handful backing the move.
East Suffolk Council has received a wave of criticism in wake of the proposals, which emerged earlier this week, with many residents arguing that money should be spent on more vital issues.
Many observers have said one of the driving reasons behind the merger of Waveney and Suffolk Coastal councils to form East Suffolk last year was to save money.
Others have even claimed that councillor work should be carried out as a form of voluntary community service.
An independent remuneration panel has recommended an increase in the basic allowance for all East Suffolk councillors up to £7,500 a year - £2,616.60 more than the current figure of £4,883.40.
Additional rises are planned for the leader and cabinet members.
The matter will be debated at a full council meeting next week.
However, not all locals are satisfied - with many posting their thoughts on social media.
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Pat Crisp asked: "Do we actually need councillors, or even some of the services that the councils provide? It's a huge growth industry, with exaggerated wages.
"Councillors used to do this work voluntarily as a service to the community. Now it's another income at our cost.
"It's impossible to stop this juggernaut - it's out of control."
Jan Garrod said: "They shouldn't get a pay rise. Spend the money on potholes - our pensions don't go up, but our poll tax does."
Debbie Plummer added: "Surely the idea of combining councils to form East Suffolk Council was to streamline and save money?"
Despite the concerns, Conservative council leader Steve Gallant has defended the increase.
He said that councillors now have "far greater responsibility" and represent more residents and businesses since Waveney and Suffolk Coastal councils merged.
He added: "Even with this proposed increase, the individual cost to East Suffolk taxpayers will still be lower than eight of the other 11 councils in Suffolk and Norfolk."
Harry Fone, grassroots campaign manager at the TaxPayers' Alliance, said: "Whilst it is good to see a reduction in the number of councillors, it is disappointing to see councillors awarding themselves a large pay hike.
"At a time when ratepayers across Suffolk are repeatedly having their council taxes raised at both a county and district level, politicians awarding themselves a bumper increase leaves a sour taste.
"East Suffolk Council ought to be making the most of the merger to find savings that allow for a reduction in the council tax burden, not keeping it up whilst boosting their own pay."