The TaxPayers' Alliance has condemned yesterday's vote by Surrey County Councillors for massive increases to a range of their allowances.
At a time when the authority is having to find considerable savings - and after Council Tax rises in each of the last three years - councillors nonetheless felt it appropriate to increase the amount of local residents' cash they are taking for themselves.
After a debate lasting nearly an hour, councillors voted by 46 to 24 in favour of a package which includes the following changes:
- A 59 per cent increase in the Council Leader's special responsibility allowance - rising from £27,000 to £43,000
- A 60 per cent increase in the Council Deputy Leader's special responsibility allowance - rising from £19,500 to £31,250
- A 36 per cent increase in Cabinet Members' special responsibility allowances - rising from £16,500 to £22,500
- A 20 per cent increase in the Council Chairman's special responsibility allowance - rising from £15,000 to £18,000
- A 60 per cent increase in the Council Vice Chairman's special responsibility allowance - rising from £5,000 to £8,000
- A 33 per cent increase in Local Committee Chairmen's special responsibility allowances - rising from £6,000 to £8,000
- A 5 per cent increase in all Councillors' basic allowance - rising from £11,791 to £12,418
Every rise in the special responsibility allowances exceeded the amount proposed by the Independent Remuneration Panel.
Surrey-born and raised Andy Silvester, Campaign Manager at the TaxPayers' Alliance, said:
"All 46 councillors who voted through these hikes in their own allowances should hang their heads in shame. When the Council is having to find £72 million in savings this year, Surrey residents will be staggered that their elected representatives felt it appropriate to increase their own allowances like this. Council Tax has been raised three years running because civic leaders claim that they are short of cash and staff have of course been subject to a pay freeze, yet councillors have found this additional money for themselves. These rises are nothing short of obscene and demonstrate a very skewed sense of priorities for those running County Hall. Surrey taxpayers have every right to feel badly let down."