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Councillors’ paycheques were the hot topic as members debated the Residents’ Association’s alternative 2013/14 budget last night.

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The opposition put forward an amendment to the administration’s proposed finance paper that recommended shaving £134,000 off members’ allowances and diverting more money into free parking at Christmas and support for voluntary groups.

Cllr Lesley Kelly (Conservative, Harold Wood) branded the RA proposals “tired and lacklustre” and criticised the fact they represented a “£200,000 comment on a budget of millions”.

But RA councillor Ray Morgon retorted with: “We are tinkering at the margins, but as cabinet members you are paid very generous allowances – so we would expect you to spend considerably more time on any budget proposals than any of the opposition groups.”

Cllr Paul Rochford (Conservative, Emerson Park) made fun of the RA’s “slick” presentation slides, saying: “Be honest with yourself. Don’t just have some slick slides. Join us in commending the strength of our budget.

“The lack of substance in the amendment shows that everybody here believes in the main that we are doing a good job.”

The alternative budget, which would have seen Havering councillors’ allowances reduced from the fifth-highest in London to the ninth-highest, was defeated by 29 votes to 15.

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