Portsmouth City councillors vote to freeze their allowances

PAY FREEZE The Civic Offices in Guildhall Square, Portsmouth.   Picture: Sarah Standing (122581-4326)
PAY FREEZE The Civic Offices in Guildhall Square, Portsmouth. Picture: Sarah Standing (122581-4326)

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COUNCILLORS have rejected a pay rise after recognising it would be unfair on people in Portsmouth who struggle to make a living.

An independent panel had recommended that the basic allowance all city councillors receive be raised from £10,200 to £10,550, but this was turned down by all parties

Lib Dem council leader Gerald-Vernon Jackson said: ‘People in this council do an amazing amount of work for the amount they get paid. But it doesn’t feel right to accept an increase when others in the city haven’t had one.’

But sparks flew after Cllr Vernon-Jackson introduced an amendment calling for opposition members in senior positions to follow the lead of the Lib Dems and reject a higher special responsibility allowance.

As previously reported, total allowances for the council leader post would have gone up from £28,560 to £31,650 a year, but this will now stay the same.

Cabinet members would have seen an increase from £17,340 to £21,100.

Money for an opposition leader would have fallen from £19,380 to £16,880 and special allowances for senior opposition figures would have been cut.

But Labour and the Tories abstained from voting on this part of the Lib Dem amendment and so these will stay the same.

Conservative leader Simon Bosher said: ‘It would have been nice if the leader of the council had given us his amendments beforehand.

‘I don’t believe this council should be amending what an independent panel has produced. I don’t feel comfortable making a decision over my pay and I wouldn’t have that decision to make in my day job.’

Panel chairman Professor John Craven, vice chancellor of the University of Portsmouth, said the improved basic allowance would have been half the national minimum wage and in line with other local authorities.

Labour group leader John Ferrett said: ‘Now is not the time for increases in allowances. There are council employees who find themselves with pay freezes and there is a one per cent cap in increases going forward.’

Deputy leader Hugh Mason added: ‘We must recognise that are living in very difficult times.’