Ken Taylor, the Conservative leader of Coventry City Council should be applauded for his comments in the Coventry Telegraph, stating that he will urge his group to reject the above-inflation pay increases recommended by an outside panel.
Many general council staff are still in dispute over single-status pay packages, and Coventry are looking at a shortfall of between £8million and £13million on next year's budget.
With this in mind, voting to bring in rises of up to 38% for councillors’ allowances would no doubt be deemed greedy and unacceptable.
Taylor said: “I am very clear that we should not be approving new increases in councillors’ allowances and my cabinet colleagues agree with me.
We are facing difficult budget challenges over the coming year and may have to make some hard decisions about services to make sure we’re providing Coventry Residents with value for money.”
Consequently they will be taking a rise, but it will be less than 2.5% in sympathy with their colleagues.
It is a shame that it has taken the single-status pay fiasco to force this situation, but nonetheless it is highly commendable of Coventry City Council, who have a record of pretty good budgeting, coming out as the best council for mileage expenses in our recent report including all the councils in the region.
The fact does remain though, that budgeting is not something that should only be exercised once the spectre of financial disaster looms, it should be standard practice. A particularly successful and lucrative year might warrant some rewards, but in general, if a councillor is able to survive happily and do his or her job on an allowance increase inline with inflation or below, then that’s what they should do. This is not martyrdom – it’s called public service. Councillors should not stand to be elected for their own personal gain and their efforts should be driven by the desire to run a tight and efficient ship for residents. That includes providing the best possible service at the lowest possible costs.