Nearly 500 people visiting Bloxwich High Street on Saturday signed an emergency petition opposing Walsall Conservative plans to increase payments to councillors in the borough’s cabinet. It will be presented at the full meeting of Walsall Council this evening by Labour leader of the opposition, Tim Oliver.
“Our members were overwhelmed by how angry the public are at these proposals,” said Tim Oliver, “there was a clear consensus that now is not the time to increase allowances.
Labour councillors on Walsall council will vote against plans to swell overall annual payments to cabinet members by nearly £16,000 a year.
The recommendation being put forward by the ruling Tory administration comes as councillors learnt of more job losses and more cuts in the government’s funding to Walsall council.
“As the council are preparing to cut more jobs and our staff are coping with a pay freeze, this move appears at best out of touch and insensitive. There is no question of Walsall Labour supporting this move,” said Councillor Oliver.
“It is certainly our view that there are matters which need correcting within Walsall’s councillor allowance scheme. But let us be clear – we believe any corrections should be done within existing budgets. If in control Walsall Labour would look toward a different structure, but any changes made would have to balance themselves out at no extra cost.”
The recommendation to increase senior councillors’ pay comes in a report by an independent committee on elected members’ allowances. It proposes special responsibility payments to the council leader would increase by £2000 to £22,365 a year; from £8.300 to £15,000 for the deputy leader, while seven remaining members of the cabinet would see their individual allowances rise to £9300 per year; an increase in the cabinet’s wage bill of £15,700 per year.