Row over four per cent pay rise proposed for Blackpool councillors

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A row has broken out over a proposed four per cent increase in councillors’ allowances – with Blackpool’s Tories saying the rise should be turned down.

A recommendation to approve the increase was rejected at a full meeting of the council, but is now set to come back before members following a procedural error.

Coun Tony Williams, leader of the Conservative group on the council, said his members would continue to reject the proposal – but if it was approved, they would donate the extra money to charity.

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Labour councillors and the Independent group had voted in favour of the increase following an independent review of allowances.

Blackpool Town Hall on Talbot RoadBlackpool Town Hall on Talbot Road
Blackpool Town Hall on Talbot Road

The report by the Independent Remuneration Committee had recommended the 4.04 per cent rise be applied to the basic allowance of £10,663 per year which all councillors receive, as well as to some special responsibility allowances.

After the meeting, Coun Tony Williams, leader of the Conservative group, said: “Blackpool is one of the most deprived towns in the UK with many families struggling to make ends meet.

“I think it’s both hypocritical and callous that Labour councillors were willing to accept a substantial pay increase when many people living in Labour wards are dependant on food banks and charities.

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“Taking a pay rise would have been a kick in the teeth to the people who voted for them.”

But council leader and leader of the Labour group Coun Lynn Williams hit back, saying the recommendation was made by an independent panel.

She said: “This is a system used for many, many years and is a fair system, the outcome and recommendations of which have nothing to do with councillors obviously.

“The report sets out the basis of the recommendations which is the same as many councils across the country.”

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She added: “It is important that the role of councillor is accessible to all members of our community, including those on low incomes.

“If we expect councillors to dedicate their time to the role, their ability to earn money elsewhere is severely reduced.

“Clearly some councillors are in the fortunate position to not need their allowance, unfortunately this is not the case for everyone.”