Leader in public defence of Wiltshire Council allowances rise (From The Wiltshire Gazette and Herald)
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Leader in public defence of Wiltshire Council allowances rise
Leader of Wiltshire Council Jane Scott defended the huge increase in councillor allowances today, following weeks of criticism and a petition calling for her resignation.
During November’s full council meeting, members voted in favour of the recommendations by the Independent Remuneration Panel, which has seen Cllr Scott’s allowances increase by 36.5 per cent a year, taking them from £37,335 to £52,227.
Cabinet members’ allowances increased by at least 22 per cent, rising from £15,101 to £18,433 a year, while councillors’ basic allowances went up by one per cent to £12,289 a year.
The move caused public outrage and prompted business consultant Paul Gaunt to set up a petition calling for Cllr Scott and her cabinet to resign, which has received over 2,000 signatures.
However, Cllr Scott says that the allowances rise was justified.
In a first public statement on the issue, she said: “The independent panel felt they had got it wrong in 2009, so we were not at the right level for the responsibility we have.”
“We are working in a more efficient way, but that does put an awful lot of pressure on all of us, both members and officers in the organisation, to deliver.
“The independent panel looked at that and they made their recommendation and I think it’s only right for the good running of the council in the future that we take that recommendation, because they thought what they put forward four years ago was wrong.
She added: “If you compare the leader, for example, in Wiltshire – with nearly half a million people and a budget of nearly a billion – to Bath & North East Somerset with a leader that gets more than that with about a third of the number of people, you can understand why, when they compared, they said they got it wrong.
“They wanted to make it right, not for me, but for the people who come after me.”
During the summer, the council ran a voluntary redundancy programme in which 252 front-line staff decided to leave the organisation.
Seven of the Council's 18 associate directors took voluntary redundancy, while the remaining associate directors saw their wages rise on average by 7.5 per cent.
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