Residents call for cuts to Councillor pay to balance Town Hall’s books

Residents had been asked how the Council should best spend its resources to meet a revenue shortfall caused by the Covid crisis.

The consultation was issued last month to help the Council prepare its budget for 2021/2022.

The survey asked residents what their priorities were and where they would like to see funding reduced.

The findings were presented to the Council’s Finance and Governance Cabinet Advisory Board earlier this week [Tuesday, January 12].

The consultation, which had been completed by 575 residents and businesses in the borough, found that the majority of people (91 per cent) supported the temporary use of reserves to shore up the Council’s finances because of the Covid crisis, as well as being broadly supportive (74 per cent or respondents) of the need to increase Council Tax by £5 in April.

But an overwhelming majority of respondents [375 out of 575] say they want to see money spent on committees, the mayoralty and member services slashed by around two thirds [66 per cent], which includes Councillor allowances and their support services.

Borough Councillors receive an annual allowance of around £5,500, but Cabinet and committee members receive additional remuneration which can be as high as £19,250 for the Leader of the Council.

Members are also able to claim travel costs and other expenses such as the cost of meals when they are taking part in Council business.

Last year, the Council spent £357,828 on allowances for Councillors.

As well as a reduction in Councillor pay, the survey also found that a third of residents would like to see money spent on museum services reduced by nearly half (45 per cent).

The Council is currently committed to replacing the existing museum with the £19million Amelia Scott building, which is due for completion early next year.

A third of residents would also like to see money spent on planning and building control reduced by 39 per cent, property and maintenance costs reduced by 30 per cent, as well as a reduction in the cost of parking.

Around a fifth of those surveyed say they would like to see a reduction in the money spent on the town’s Assembly Hall Theatre by around 12 per cent.

The consultation will be presented to the Cabinet at the Council on February 4.

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