Politicians vote for allowance increase

Coun Stephen Robinson, cabinet member for finance at South Ribble Borough Council
Coun Stephen Robinson, cabinet member for finance at South Ribble Borough Council
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Politicians have voted to increase their allowances for the first time in a decade.

Members of South Ribble Council last night passed by a majority a motion to raise their out-of-pocket expenses for travel and subsistence from £100 to £350, partly because of increasing fuel costs.

The move will cost taxpayers £13,750 a year. However, there are no plans to increase councillors’ basic allowance of £1,500 a year or special allowances.

The council has the lowest allowances for members in Lancashire and among the very lowest in the country.

Coun Stephen Robinson, cabinet member for finance and resources, said the council believed the change was logical.

He said: “The last increase was recommended in 2002 and implemented in May 2003 and there has been nothing since.

“An independent review panel in 2008 recommended an increase but the councillors rejected the panel’s findings at that time.

“The borough is quite a large borough and if you go from the eastern to the western boundary, there is quite a distance.

“But it’s not just fuel, it’s looking after residents with telephone calls, correspondence, computer costs - you name it, you could find a dozen things that councillors have to fund as out-of-pocket expenses.”

Coun Matthew Tomlinson, leader of the opposition group, said expenses would rise from around £2 a week to around £5.

He said: “I’m on the planning committee and that meets 17 times a year and we’re expected to drive around looking at sites in our own time to help reach decisions.

“I do generally think that most people would not see this as being unreasonable.”