Pay cut plan thrown out

Peter Box after announcing budget proposals' 'LOCATION:  Wakefield Town Hall
Peter Box after announcing budget proposals' 'LOCATION: Wakefield Town Hall
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CALLS for councillors to take a cut in their allowances to save £50,000 were quashed at Wakefield Council’s budget meeting last week.

Conservative group leader Coun Mark Crowther’s suggested amendment to the budget proposal for elected members to take a five per cent cut in allowances was outvoted by 40 to 16 at County Hall on Thursday.

Coun Crowther claimed the move could have helped to rescue some of the 50 jobs set to be axed this year as the council tries to save £22m.

But council leader Coun Peter Box accused Coun Crowther of attempted political point-scoring and said he had undermined a long-held system of allowances being recommended by a neutral panel.

Coun Box said: “This amendment trivialises the difficult decisions we’ve had to make.

“Elected members can volunteer to take a reduction in their own allowance now if they want. But we have a system in place that works and is both fair and seen to be fair by the public.”

After the meeting, Coun Crowther said: “Senior managers have taken a cut, why should we be different to them? The panel can continue its good work – I just thought if we can save money by being in this together and taking a cut, then why not?

“The Labour members just don’t want to give up their allowances.”

In his budget speech, Coun Box said the city faced “huge challenges” in future years.

He warned of “even more cuts and even more job losses” if the government did not offer further grants in exchange for frozen council tax.

But he focused on the city’s recent successes, such as Wakefield’s Trinity Walk shopping centre and the Hepworth Wakefield gallery, and vowed to protect its most vulnerable people.

Coun Box said: “There is an increasing demand on children’s services and real pressures on adult social care. But we’ve come through tough times before and we’ll do it again. We’ll continue to invest in the future and offer people hope.”