Pay cuts to save council jobs

Blackpool Council leader Peter Callow
Blackpool Council leader Peter Callow
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COUNCILLORS look set to pare back their allowances after town hall staff agreed to take a pay cut to help save jobs.

Blackpool Council leader Coun Peter Callow said he is prepared to reduce his annual allowance of just under £21,000 and will ask fellow Tories to follow suit.

All councillors are entitled to a basic allowance of just under £6,000 per year, with additional sums for those with special responsibilities.

The leaders of the Labour and Lib Dem groups on the council are also set to recommend cutbacks to their members.

No figures have been produced and allowances not due to be reviewed again until June.

However councillors can volunteer not to take their full allowance.

Council staff, including senior management, have agreed to a package of reduced terms and conditions which includes taking four days unpaid leave, the equivalent of a pay cut of between one and two per cent.

Coun Callow said; “We are all in the same boat and if staff are prepared to have their pay and conditions cut, we should do the same. I intend to take a pay cut.

“I will be speaking to my group and seeing how we can take this forward.

“It is a great sacrifice the staff have made and the unions are working extremely closely with the council on this.”

The reduced terms, which also mean a freeze on increments and an end to free parking for most workers, will save £2.2m and 100 jobs.

Coun Simon Blackburn, leader of the Labour group on Blackpool Council, said: “It would be unthinkable for staff to be making a sacrifice and for councillors not to do likewise.”

He added he would be unveiling recommendations for a full overhaul of the expenses and allowances system in the Labour manifesto ahead of the May local elections.

Coun Doug Green, leader of the Lib Dem group, said: “I don’t think it would be fair or equitable to expect staff to take a reduction in pay unless a similar pay reduction is taken by councillors. However I think the long term solution is to reorganise local government so there are fewer councillors covering a larger area.”

The range of annual special allowances on top of the £5,998 basic allowance includes £20,998 for the leader of the council, £5,998 for cabinet members and committee chairmen, £5,248 for the leader of the main opposition, and £1,125 for members of the development control committee.

Blackpool Council needs to save 14 per cent, or £27m from its budget next year, and has warned between 800 and 1,000 jobs could be at risk.