A ROW erupted between Malvern councillors as the majority decided to half their proposed allowance increase. 

The move came despite fierce opposition from backbenchers on Malvern Hills District Council who felt they were 'worth more' than the £218 cash boost they ended up receiving. 

Councillors will now be given a £5,299 basic allowance for the 2024/25 year after 18 of the 27 councillors voted to receive 50 per cent less than the upgrade offered to them. 

But in a heated debate, several members called for the ‘embarrassment’ of deciding the amounts lining their pockets to be taken out of their hands in future years. 

At last night’s full council meeting, members were met with a recommendation by the independent remuneration panel (IRP) to increase their allowances to 8.6 per cent- £437 in total. 

District council leader, Cllr Tom Wells, Independent, put forward an amendment that members would only receive half of that proposed. 

Cllr Wells said the cash saved through this move- roughly £10,500- could be put back into helping the community. 

He added the optional release of funds would be prudent given the budget pressures the authority faces. 

However, Cllr Jeremy Owenson, Conservative, said the full increase should be paid, feeling backbenchers who become councillors ‘for the love of it’ should be considered in the vote.  

He added: “It’s easy to say let’s halve the members' allowance if you are a portfolio holder or a member of Worcestershire County Council, but I look at backbenchers and that’s why I have consistently voted for the members' full allowance over the years.”

Many other councillors said the ward they represented had increased in either size of population recently, meaning their workload had also gone up.  

Cllr Barbara Jones-Williams, Conservative, said her ward had increased from three to seven parishes. 

She added that, while she knew she could claim travel expenses for the distance, she felt she was worth more than the £4.19 a week extra she would be getting due to Cllr Wells’s amendment. 

Cllr Martin Allen. Green, voted for the amendment as he felt it was the right thing to do, but called for the IRP’s recommendation to be accepted without members' approval in future. 

He said: “This is a yearly embarrassment, we should not have the power to dabble over our own allowances.”

Please note: A previous version of this article incorrectly stated that Tom Wells is a Liberal Democrat candidate. He is in fact an Independent candidate. We are happy to correct the record.