Councillors’ anger after expenses scrutiny is rejected

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Councillors have hit out after attempts to have members expenses scrutinised were voted down, with one describing it as a ‘disgrace’.

A motion was recently put forward at Nottinghamshire County Council to bring in the independent remuneration panel to look into the special responsibility allowances.

It came after a review of the committee system within 
the council proposed a reduction into the number of meetings.

As a result, some councillors feel that if committees were meeting less, then the special financial allowances for those chairing the meetings should be proportionally reduced, given the pressure that authorities are under to continually cut costs.

But in response, deputy leader for the council, Joyce Bosnjak, said: “You can only bring in the rumuneration panel if there’s been a significant change in circumstances, there hasn’t been.

“This was just a pilot (reducing the number of committee meetings) and to call in the panel would cost £6,000.

“Chairing a committee meeting is only a tiny proportion of the role.”

The motion was put forward by Coun Reg Rigby but was voted down 29 votes to 35, and Ashfield councillor, Jason Zadrozny was angry with the decision.

He said: “If there’s not much work to do they should not be on the same money. It’s a disgrace.

“The council is facing £154m cuts to frontline services - what message does this send out to the people of Mansfield and Ashfield, some of whom average just £14,000 wages a year?

“Would they be paid the same if they worked less?

“I’m absolutely livid about this, we have low-income families struggling to live and we have these councillors 
who should be setting an example.

“It was not even debated.”

This view was supported by several other members, including Coun Reg Adair who welcomed the idea of the panel’s involvement.

He added: “I was pleased to support Coun Rigby’s amendment, which has implications for all of us who receive a 
special responsibility allowance.

“It is only right at the start of a new administration to ask our independent remuneration panel to examine whether councillors are being paid the correct amount for what they do or whether reductions need to be made, especially in the current national context and when the frequency of some committee meetings is being reduced.”