Politicians' cash breaks £1 million mark

CASH spent on elected politicians at county hall has smashed through the £1million barrier for the first time, The Evening Star can reveal today.The staggering figure, revealed in Suffolk County Council's annual accounts, is a massive 41 per cent increase on the amount spent two years ago of £760,000.

CASH spent on elected politicians at county hall has smashed through the £1million barrier for the first time, The Evening Star can reveal today.

The staggering figure, revealed in Suffolk County Council's annual accounts, is a massive 41 per cent increase on the amount spent two years ago of £760,000. Inflation is currently running at 3.3 pc.

The total for the 12 months up to April - a whopping £1,071,414 - is made up of:

£691k in basic allowances - £9,324 to each the county's 75 councillors - up £170k on two years ago

£289k in special responsibility pay - up £130k on two years ago

£91k in expenses - up £11k on two years ago

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The massive increase on money spent on elected councillors has come in for criticism from lobby group The Taxpayers' Alliance.

Mark Wallace, campaign director, said: “This is an obscene increase in councillor's allowances at a time when council tax has gone through the roof and ordinary families are struggling to make ends meet.

“It is completely wrong that councillors are paying themselves so much more money.”

Councillors have been quick to defend their levels of pay - pointing to the fact that the bulk of the increase is as a result of recommendations made by an independent panel.

Jeremy Pembroke, Tory leader of Suffolk County Council who earned £35,591, said the majority of councillors work long hours, are not in it for the money and without recompense for travel costs and their time it would be difficult to attract anyone to the role.

“It sounds a great deal of money but I think councillors are worth every penny,” he said. “They work very hard on behalf of their constituents and do very long hours.”

Kevan Lim, deputy leader of the county's Labour group, said when taken in context councillors do a lot of work for relatively little money.

“We are talking about 75 members who don't all have the same level of responsibility, bearing in mind the basic allowance for some people who do the job full time is fairly low,” he said.

“This is £1million out of a total budget of £680million.”

However Andrew Cann, deputy leader of the Lib Dem group, said pay increase for councillors in excess of those handed to frontline staff cannot be justified.

“We voted against the substantial increases in allowances as we feel it is wrong that councillors decide for themselves what their own allowances are,” he said.

“We should have our pay set nationally, like the staff, and receive the same pay increments as staff.”

News of the increase comes at a time when the council is already under scrutiny over spending following weeks the controversial appointment of chief executive Andrea Hill on £220,000, around £70,000 more than predecessor Mike More.

Are councillors paid too much? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or e-mail eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk

2007-08: £1,071,414

2006-07: £918,443

2005-06: £759,956

Basic allowance special allowance expenses

Jeremy Pembroke (council leader) £9,324 £23,310 £2,957

Jane Storey (deputy leader) £9,324 £15,985 £3,620

Eddy Alcock (environment) £9,324 £13,986 £4,425

Guy McGregor (transport) £9,324 £13,986 £2,977

Patricia O'Brien (children) £9,324 £13,986 £1,192

Lisa Chambers (economic) £9,324 £12,661 £4,740

Graham Newman (adult services) £9,324 £13,986 £2,977

Joanna Spicer (public protection) £9,324 £13,986 £3,765