Gosport Borough Council puts an end to pay for suspended councillors

SUSPENDED Cllr Dave Smith
SUSPENDED Cllr Dave Smith
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SUSPENDED councillors will be stopped from claiming allowances under new rules agreed by Gosport Borough Council.

Councillors now won’t be able to receive their basic, special responsibility or travel allowances if they aren’t actively serving their constituents.

It comes as rivals criticised independent Cllr Dave Smith for claiming his £435-a-month general members’ allowance despite being suspended for a year.

The council voted in favour of the recommendation which was made by an independent panel.

Tory council leader Cllr Mark Hook said: ‘It’s only right and proper that if they can’t carry out their duties they should not receive an allowance.

‘That was the view of the independent panel and I concur with that view.’

Councillors who break the council’s code of conduct can be suspended by the Standards Board for England.

But it is expected this body will be axed as part of the coalition government’s cuts.

The requirement for councils to have a standards board will be abolished, but they will be free to set up their own voluntary boards to consider complaints.

These committees will be able to censure councillors, but will not be able to suspend or disqualify them.

Cllr Smith, who recently finished a 12-month suspension after calling council officers ‘corrupt’, said he ‘didn’t see the point’ in the new rules if councillors could no longer be suspended.

‘Local authorities will not have any power to suspend or disqualify councillors,’ he said.

‘The electorate will decide, not some unelected quango.’

Leader of the Gosport Lib Dems Cllr Peter Chegwyn was reported to the Standards Board after he voted to block a motion on his Stokes Bay Festival from being discussed.

This resulted in a two-year disqualification which was later reduced at the High Court to a two-month suspension in 2009.

He said: ‘I was never fully suspended as I was still a county councillor.

‘The small amount I got I gave to charities and good causes.’

Speaking about the new rules, he added: ‘Mark Hook is playing politics.

‘He has closed the stable door after the horse has bolted. It is a pointless exercise.’