Extraordinary council meeting passes controversial allowances motion
- Credit: Archant
Havering Council tonight passed a controversial motion revising special responsibility allowances in the first full meeting of a new coalition administration.
The move sets pay for leader Cllr Roger Ramsey at just over £45,000, the allowance for deputy leader Cllr Damian White at £31,420, and gives cabinet members each £28,780.
Councillors rejected two amendments to pass the motion.
Responding to one – a proposal from the Independent Residents’ Group (IRG) to cut allowances above £7,650 by 25pc – former leader Cllr Michael White (Squirrels Heath, Con) held a picture of a dartboard aloft and warned the plan would result in random allocation of pay.
“I’m going to ask Cllr Ramsey if we can install this in the council chamber,” he joked to members.
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“Because in the future this is how we’re going to decide our salaries. We’ll put a dartboard up there and we’ll throw a dart and we’ll see where it lands.”
He said the plan was in stark contrast to the administration’s motion – ultimately passed – which is based on recommendations for so-called special responsibility allowances (SRAs) from an independent panel convened by London Councils, a representative body for local authorities in the capital.
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Outlining the proposal, council leader Cllr Roger Ramsey (Emerson Park, Con), whose allowance falls to £45,048, said the new pay structure put nearly all SRAs 18pc below the “minimum” rate suggested in the panel’s 2014 remuneration report.
The Residents’ Group, led by Cllr Ray Morgon (Hacton), proposed drastic councillor pay cuts that would have seen the leader on £40,000 and cabinet posts down 39pc from £32,705 to £20,000.
But the group’s plan to bring SRAs “more in line with public expectations” was lambasted by Cllr Michael Deon Burton (South Hornchurch, IRG), who said it was using allowances as “an easy stick to beat members with”.
Cllr White added: “We should be rewarded for the work we do because it’s a proper job.”
The extraordinary meeting of the council also saw the creation of two additional cabinet posts in the new coalition administration for Cllr Clarence Barrett and Cllr Ron Ower, of the recently created East Havering Residents’ Group (EHRG).
Cllr Barrett was made cabinet member for financial management, with Cllr Ower being given the position of cabinet member for housing company development and oneSource management.
EHRG was formed earlier last month when a group of eight Residents’ Association councillors decided to join forces with the then Tory minority administration, claiming it could “no longer sit on the sidelines when there is work to be done”.
• Pick up Friday’s copy of the Recorder for full coverage of the meeting