Fareham councillors vote against calls for allowances cut

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CALLS to cut some allowances at Fareham Borough Council have been shot down by councillors.

Independent councillors Nick Gregory, Jack Englefield and Dave Whittingham want special allowances to be halved in the light of cuts to council tax benefit.

They put forward the motion at the meeting of the full council, only for the majority of fellow councillors to vote against it.

Cllr Gregory claims the council paid £158,500 in special allowances to councillors in the past year, for such roles as chairman, or vice-chairman, of a committee, on top of the standard £6,465.60 allowance. He believes reducing this will make an approximate saving of between £75,000 and £80,000 for the authority.

Cllr Gregory said: ‘What we’re trying to do is for people to have a bit of a conscience and give a little back.

‘We looked at special allowances as a way we could make a cut and lead by example. It was turned down point blank.

‘The allowance I get pays for my literature every year to tell people what’s going on. I don’t even claim fuel allowance.’

Putting forward the motion, Cllr Whittingham told councillors: ‘We as a local authority have been given the responsibility to form a council tax scheme with an overall reduction of 10 per cent from last year’s budget. The executive will be recommending to this council to adopt this scheme, which will cause around a 23 per cent cut in benefits for the most vulnerable sectors.

‘I feel it is my duty and morally correct to request that we as elected councillors must lead by example.’

A second motion aimed at changing the council constitution to restructure committee groups, by having an equal balance of political parties on each, was also voted against.

Council leader Cllr Sean Woodward said: ‘The fact of the matter is, for four years we have frozen members’ allowances, so if someone says they should cut allowances, we have done it.

‘I’m sure we will do it again next year. It has effectively been done by attrition.

‘Both motions were unintelligible and people kept asking for clarification.

‘Perhaps they want to do their homework a bit better and understand how the council is run.’