Row as council members ask for more cash

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COUNCILLORS have come under fire after asking for an increase in their petrol allowance while front-line services face massive cuts.

Tory Waterlooville Councillors Robin McIntosh and Ian Beagley made a written submission to an independent pay panel at Hampshire County Council. They said the 40p per mile rate was ‘unrealistic’. Last year members voted to give themselves the choice of claiming a mileage rate of anything between 53.8p and 40p – while cutting the 53p per mile claimed by thousands of staff to 40p.

Cllr Beagley said mileage rates should be based on the ‘true costs of running a car’ which he said increase steadily every year. He told the panel: ‘Despite the widespread misunderstanding, the 40p/m figure is not a recommended mileage allowance but merely the figure at which HMRC chooses to level tax on mileage allowances. It is thoroughly out of date, having been in existence at the same level for 19 years.

‘If inflation over that period is applied, then 40p becomes 64p which remarkably is the same figure that the AA calculate to be the cost per mile of running a medium sized car today.’

Cllr Beagley added: ‘There is no reason why members should accept an artificially low figure and thereby subsidise travel connected with carrying out their duties.’

But Lib Dem Leigh Park Cllr Ann Buckley told The News: ‘I feel the 40p is more than adequate. I think they are being unrealistic.’ Members on the allowances panel backed the recommendation for a single 40p rate for all 78 councillors. A final decision will be made this week.