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Row rumbles on between councillors

PUBLISHED: 13:53 19 April 2003 | UPDATED: 13:45 03 March 2010

TOP county officials have continued taking swipes at each other today over claims that increasing the number of councillors is a waste of money.

Lord Hanningfield, leader of Essex County Council – which is proposing to drop four councillors from its current total of 79 – said that Suffolk County Councils plans to add ten more councillors to their existing total of 80 seems "an unnecessary cost".

TOP county officials have continued taking swipes at each other today over claims that increasing the number of councillors is a waste of money.

Lord Hanningfield, leader of Essex County Council – which is proposing to drop four councillors from its current total of 79 – said that Suffolk County Councils plans to add ten more councillors to their existing total of 80 seems "an unnecessary cost".

But Kevan Lim, Labour member for Ipswich Town, has hti back saying: "It is outrageous that Lord Hanningfield should comment on the proposals and make such an implication.

"The proposals give all of Suffolk's electors equal representation in accordance with the guidelines of the independent Boundary Committee for England and they will still cost less than Essex."

Mr Lim also claimed that the Conservative politician was giving out misleading information to sway voters at election time.

Lord Hanningfield replied: "I am not making outrageous comments or misleading anyone, I am just telling you what happens in Essex.

"We think that a two-tier authority does not need so many councillors and are trying to cut the numbers in our own council."

Mr Lim also challenged the peer to explain some of Essex County Council expenditure.

Essex councillors are paid £8,500 a year when Suffolk councillors are only paid £6,408 and Essex currently spends more than £150,000 a year more than Suffolk. If the proposals to increase the number of staff are accepted then Essex will still spend some £60,000 more than Suffolk.

Lord Hanningfield said: "There is an independent panel that decides on the level of a councillors allowance. In London, where there is weighting for the differences in living expenses, a councillor's allowance is £10,000. Our councillors are paid more because we are closer to the city.

"Mr Lim should know that we don't decide the allowances ourselves."

As for the councils total expenditure Lord Hanningfield said: "Essex is twice the size of Suffolk so I am surprised that we do not spend more. Suffolk should be spending only half as much as us."

N What do you think? Would additional councillors be a waste of money? Write in to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or email eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk or visit the forum at www.eveningstar.co.uk


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