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Ex police chief in council blast

PUBLISHED: 22:00 16 May 2002 | UPDATED: 11:57 03 March 2010

FORMER Chief Constable Tony Coe has launched a broadside at councillors who are upset that they're only doubling their money.

Mr Coe, who chaired the panel for Suffolk District Council which reviewed members' allowances, said some were too concerned about the money they can earn from the council chamber.

FORMER Chief Constable Tony Coe has launched a broadside at councillors who are upset that they're only doubling their money.

Mr Coe, who chaired the panel for Suffolk District Council which reviewed members' allowances, said some were too concerned about the money they can earn from the council chamber.

He said: "The majority of councillors are very good and are totally committed. They do a first class job and receive an appropriate allowance but I feel certain members saw this as an opportunity of getting more money.

"The panel made the right decision regarding the 100% increase. Some councillors moaned the rise wasn't enough while members of the public complained it was too much, so that indicates the balance was about right."

Mr Coe also feels some councillors do not understand what their role is supposed to be, and are confusing it with that of the officers who are paid to run the council.

Mr Coe said the council has not actually taken on any added responsibilities in line with their pay rise, although the way the council operates has changed, making more demands on some members time.

"It's good that allowances have increased to ensure less well off people are not deterred from participating in local government but I wonder whether the new and much more expensive systems is more effective or more efficient.

"I would presume that these additional costs would demand at least some improvements but how will it be measured?" he said.

Mr Coe also expressed his concern about the steep increase in the budget for members allowances over the past three years.

He said: "In doing its work the panel looked at the history of funding for member allowances in Suffolk Coastal where traditionally levels had been comparatively low.

"What was very noticeable was the budget had significantly increased since 1999 by some 295% from £43,000 to £170,000."

Mr Coe added that a cabinet member had commented at one meeting that if the rise had not been as great then the council tax would not have risen so much this year.

Mr Coe has since resigned as chairman of the independent panel.

"I felt so far removed from the way that local government sees the world that it would not have been appropriate for me to continue.

"I feel we have a new system, unproven as yet, which is costing a lot of money for local people and they should be aware of that fact," he said.

Ray Herring council leader said: "I do not know of any councillor who does the job for financial reasons and I find the comment surprising when we broadly accepted the panel's advice.

"Our allowances are well below average and are a third of the county councils and also that of the police authorities.

"If you look at neighbouring authorities such as Ipswich and Babergh theirs are significantly higher than Suffolk Coastal.

"Tony Coe did attract some criticism during the review and failed to ask individual councillors about their work loads and refused to discuss allowances with senior councillors. In most reviews we expect councillors to be consulted and he did not do that."


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