There aren’t too many people who would reject a major pay rise, but that’s exactly what councillors at Shire Hall have done.
Members of Gloucestershire County Council currently pocket a basic allowance of £8,800 a year.
But an independent panel has suggested that should be hiked up above £10,000, not only to recognise the hard work of councillors, but also to try and attract high calibre candidates to the role.
However, councillors wary of a backlash rejected the £1,000+ pay rise in favour of a more electorally palatable increase of £200, voting in favour of a basic allowance of £9,000 earlier this week.
Shire Hall staff have seen their pay increase by one per cent this year and another one per cent increase is anticipated in the coming financial year.
The £200 rise for councillors brings them in line with the pay rise given to council employees.
William Alexander, the chairman of the independent remuneration panel, presented his recommendations to councillors on Wednesday.
“We firmly believe that your basic allowance is too low and quite considerably too low, but now is probably not the right time financially to change it too greatly because you are a hung council,” he said.
“Instead of moving you from £8,800 to £10,000 as we wanted, or even greater, we are recommending it be moved up to £9,000.
“We have got to encourage and not discourage people from standing to be councillors. This does have an effect: Councillors give an awful lot of time to the council and that should be reflected.”
Ray Theodoulou, deputy leader of Gloucestershire County Council, believes the agreed pay rise is “appropriate”.
“The allowance has been frozen since 2008 in Gloucestershire and although it was suggested by the independent panel that the rise needed to be higher to take this into account, council agreed that one per cent was appropriate considering its financial constraints.
“This increase also brings members in line with all council staff.”
Councillors also agreed to make changes to the amount of money paid to members who chair committees.
The special responsibility allowance will dip from £5,808 to £5,400.
The independent panel also raised questions about the salary paid to the leader of the council.
At the moment the leader receives £27,000 plus the basic allowance - a total of £36,000.
The panel believes that should be considerably higher.
Mr Alexander said: “We believe the role of leader is undervalued. They have such a great amount of responsibility and accountability – we would like to see it moved from three times the basic allowance to four times.”
The leader of the county’s Labour group, Lesley Williams, added: “I think given the current financial climate we are doing the right thing.”
The new basic allowance will take effect from April 1.