Tuesday 18th July has already been labelled Fat Cat Tuesday – the day Cambridgeshire’s Conservative county councillors tore up the recommendations of an independent panel and voted themselves a massive pay rise instead.
The independent panel had been asked to advise on the allowances paid to county councillors for doing their duties. The panel interviewed a range of councillors, asked searching questions, and made informed and sensible recommendations. These would have cost about £750,000, which is less than the council had budgeted for this year.
However, Conservative councillors (with just one exception) decided to rip up the panel’s proposals and invent their own allowances. To everyone’s utter surprise (not), these were far more generous, totalling £936,726 – over £185,000 more than the panel had recommended.
The Leader of the Council currently gets £21,000 a year. The panel proposed he should be paid £25,000. He has decided he is worth over £31,000.
The Deputy Leader, currently on over £14,000, was recommended by the panel for a pay cut, to £11,250. Instead he’ll get a pay rise too, to £20,627.
Both of those allowances are on top of a basic allowance that rises to over £10,000 a year.
Two additional committees have been set up: that means seven committees instead of five. Each one has a Chair (on over £18,000) and a Vice Chair (on nearly £8,000). That’s an extra £52,000 just for those two committees.
And there will be five new councillor posts called ‘area leads’ within the new Community & Partnerships Committee, each on an extra £5,000.
It’s a job creation scheme on a massive scale. Almost two-thirds of the Conservatives’ 36 county councillors could be on some kind of extra allowance.
Meanwhile, residents on the Fen Estate are losing the 117 bus, because the council says it can’t afford it. The out of hours care service is moving out of Union lane to Addenbrook's meaning residents will have to spend more money to get over there. There’s no money for services, but there’s enough money for a massive pay rise for councillors.
The sheer naked greed of the exercise is breathtaking – and unforgivable.