It is refreshing to read that our local county councillor has decided to forego the 10.5% increase in councillors’ allowances recently voted by the majority of those Norfolk County Councillors who did not absent themselves from this vote.
At a time when council tax is likely to rise by around 5% or more, it seems that those councillors who voted for their 10.5% increase, or left it to colleagues to do so, demonstrated a lack of leadership and morality, and political naivety to the extent that one wonders whether they are in touch with popular feeling.
While I agree that councillors should be adequately recompensed for the work they do, now is not a good time for an increase (as the councillors were formally advised), and the argument that Norfolk allowances are well behind those in other counties does not entirely wash.
Other counties should look at the comparison with, and example previously set by, Norfolk and restrain their allowances – they do not always have to increase in hardened times.
The money raised through council tax for Norfolk County Council is around £350 million a year and the 10.5% increase in allowances totals £142,000, which equates to an increase of 0.04%.
I am minded to withhold that percentage of my annual council tax payments – in my case that would be approximately 70p.
If everyone did that, the council could recover the shortfall by all councillors following our local councillor’s example.
Certainly, as the position stands, the incomes of elected county councillors will increase by a lot more than the rise in their personal council tax bills, whereas the incomes of most of their electors are unlikely to increase to meet the hike in their bills.
One law for the elected, another for the electors.
Perhaps the answer is to stand for election as a county councillor – although not in Reepham.
Rupert Birtles, Pettywell, Reepham