Councillors’ allowances to stay the same

Allowances for Breckland councillors will remain the same next year despite “financial uncertainties” for the local authority.

The recommendations made by the independent Remuneration Panel were announced by Vicky Thomson, assistant director of democratic services at Breckland Council, on Thursday at a full council meeting.

She said: “During their meetings and deliberations, the panel has been mindful of the financial restraints affecting the council and the public sector as a whole. Despite these, the authority has continued to perform very well, maintaining the lowest council tax in the country and with good levels of public satisfaction with local service provision.

“Given the financial uncertainties and changes Breckland Council is likely to face in subsequent years, the panel was mindful to only recommend the scheme for the period of January 1, 2012 to March 31, 2013 to bring it into line with the financial year.”

Other recommendations, agreed by councillors, included the basic allowance of �5,200 for all 54 members per year should remain, the training mileage allowance was abolished, the national conditions of service rates applied to councillors who attended training events and the council had the right to withdraw allowances from a fully or partially suspended councillor.

Mrs Thomson said the panel felt the training mileage allowance was “unjustifiably low” when council members were encouraged to take part in training sessions.

Special responsibility allowances for councillors who hold certain positions, including portfolio holders, will mostly remain the same.

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The only difference was the drop in the allowance for the chairman of licensing, from �5,200 to �2,600, because the panel felt the chairman’s responsibilities had “significantly diminished”, according to Mrs Thomson.

She added that this amount will be reviewed retrospectively when the allowances are next looked at.