Labour halt councillors’ allowance increase

Labour councillors voted against retaining an inefficient and costly system of paying senior councillors, as Tories u-turned on increasing allowances.

The about face came as  Conservative leader of the council,  Mike Bird, backtracked on his remarks defending the proposed £16,000 pay hike, telling a full meeting of Walsall council his words had been twisted by the media.

The Tory u-turn came after Labour members attacked a recommendation to increase allowances to the leader of the council and cabinet members.

After presenting a petition signed by 500 people opposing the increases, Labour group leader Tim Oliver said the council had missed the chance to put in place a more efficient system which would save council tax payers’ money.

Speaking after the meeting, he said: “The Tories completely failed to understand the public mood on this. Mike Bird had argued in defence of a recommended allowance increase, but following public outrage he U-turned.

“Instead of accepting our argument and taking the opportunity to reform a system which makes no sense and is costly, the Tories instead moved a motion to keep the existing pay system.

“In a mirror image of national politics, the Lib Dems supported them, and the motion was passed by just one vote.

“We are pleased that the public outcry has stopped these increases but in the long term, the existing structure and payments to senior councillors has got to be reviewed.”