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Allowance rises set to be rejected by Worcester City Councillors
THE leader of Worcester City Council is turning down the chance to give himself a 26 per cent pay rise tonight - saying now is the wrong time to argue for an increase.
An independent panel has suggested that Councillor Adrian Gregson should get the bumper hike to reflect the hours he puts in.
The Independent Remuneration Panel, which is tasked with making a yearly recommendation, also says deputy leader Councillor Geoff Williams should get 22 per cent extra.
But both rises are expected to be vetoed in a crunch vote, as well as a suggestion that the basic allowance should rise five per cent, from £3,990 to £4,200.
A 26 per cent rise for Cllr Gregson's special responsibility top-up - the extra amount he gets for being leader - would see it go from £9,975 to £12,600.
Cllr Williams' additional special responsibility rate would rise from £5,985 to £7,350.
But the council has powers to refuse any recommendations from the panel, and ahead of a vote tonight the Labour leadership says it intends to call for a freeze.
The last time councillors allowances increased in Worcester was 2010, when basic rates went up six per cent.
Cllr Gregson said: "It's not my intention to propose any rise, we want to see a freeze.
"The panel is appointed under legislation and has to come up with recommendations, but it's up to the council as to what is reasonable.
"There is an issue about being able to attract candidates without enough private income to get by, but I recognise this rise isn't something the public wants to see us voting for."
That view was echoed by Councillor Liz Smith, Liberal Democrat group leader, who also sits in the cabinet.
"It is a problem that we are falling so far behind, it's a bit like MPs, when the day of reckoning comes it could be massive," she said.
"But I agree with them that any rise is too difficult when there is so much money being taken out of the budget."
Councillor Richard Boorn, cabinet member for finance, said: "Nobody is in it for the money - if they did the job properly it's less than the minimum wage anyway.
"Being a councillor is a public service and I don't think the public would look on it too kindly if we went for these rises."
Councillors allowances at the Guildhall are among the lowest in the entire country.
Each city councillors' basic rate is around £300 below the West Midlands average of £4,313.
The city council is slashing just under £1 million from spending in 2014/15 and expects to have to cut a total of £4.1 million by 2019.
The full council meeting, starting from 7pm at the Guildhall, will also see the budget voted on, as well as a 1.9 per cent council tax rise.