7:30am Saturday 16th February 2013
By Tom Edwards
THE leader of Worcester City Council has been handed the chance to get a 26 per cent pay rise – but insists he will turn it down.
Councillor Simon Geraghty will get the chance to vote on his own allowance this Tuesday – with an independent panel suggesting he be handed a record-breaking rise.
Deputy leader Coun Marc Bayliss has also been recommended to receive a 22 per cent increase, while rates for backbench councillors could also rise 5.3 per cent.
A report on the figures admits the “substantial increases” would be “a difficult decision” for the council, which is freezing pay for staff this year and scrapping 26 jobs by 2015.
But it also says Coun Geraghty has “increasing expectations” placed upon him and that ordinary councillors are taking on more and more work.
The recommendations are:
The basic rate for councillors be increased from £3,990 to £4,200;
The leader’s special top-up allowance rises from £9,975 to £12,600;
The deputy leader gets a top-up of £7,350, up from £5,985.
Councillors’ allowances in Worcester have been frozen for the last three years. The last time they went up was six per cent in 2010.
Worcester’s Labour group has already revealed it will vote against a rise, saying it would be the wrong time to adopt it, as well as Green Party councillor Neil Laurenson.
Group leader Coun Adrian Gregson said: “The problem is, people think we are paid a lot, and too much, but that is wrong. We don’t get a wage, we get an allowance and a lot of people do this in their own time.
“But we won’t be supporting a rise.”
Coun Geraghty said he would not be taking a 26 per cent rise in his allowance, while Coun Bayliss will vote against his 22 per cent rise.
Coun Geraghty said: “I would not be looking to take the increase in my allowance even if it was approved by the council. I just wouldn’t feel comfortable doing it at this time.”
The report, by the Independent Remuneration Panel (IRP), says the average basic allowance nationwide is £4,123, meaning Worcester’s politicians are lagging behind. It says the end decision is “ultimately for the council to decide”, and that they could adopt all the recommendations or just some of them.
The IRP is a five-strong panel made up of retired public sector workers and both current and former magistrates.
The full council meeting is at 7pm on Tuesday at the Guildhall.
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