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Cllr Sonia Barker - Letter to the Lowestoft Journal

At last night’s Waveney District Council meeting the Waveney Labour Group voted against the first of three Independent Remuneration Panel’s recommendations that WDC Councillors should get an average increase overall of 28.6% in WDC Allowances. 23 Conservative Councillors (with one Abstention) voted for the basic WDC allowance to increase to £4,787.57 pa. for all Councillors plus an increase in the amount and the number of Special Responsibility Allowances SRAs). Conservative Councillors voted for the creation of up to eight new Deputy Cabinet posts (£2,393.78 pa SRA) and payment to Vice Chairs of Committees (£957.51 - £2393.78 pa SRA). The Leader of WDC Cllr Mark Bee will get an increase of £5,056.40 pa SRA on top of an increase in the basic allowance – taking his new Leader’s allowance to £14,362.00 (plus the new basic allowance of £4,787.57 pa. making a total of £19149.57 pa). Cllr Bee is also a `double hatter` which means he also has an allowance from SCC – this also applies to six other WDC Conservative Cllrs (five of whom are on the WDC Cabinet ( Basic Allowance plus £4950 SRA pa ). In answer to a question from Labour Councillor Keith Patience the total cost of the new payments per annum to Waveney District Council was given as between £51,000 to £81,000 per annum. There are currently 28 Conservative Cllrs and the majority of them will be receiving a Special Responsibility Allowance (SRA) as a result of the vote which went through last night. The Waveney Labour Group asked for a recorded vote so all residents of WDC will be able to see how their Councillor voted once the minutes of the meeting are on line. The Independent Remuneration Panel’s recommendations can be viewed now at www.eastsuffolk.gov.uk. Labour Councillors were particularly concerned that the increases are to be backdated to the 1st April, 2017. Waveney residents can give their judgement on these massive increases at the ballot box in 2019.

The Waveney Labour Group’s view put forward strongly by Cllr Sonia Barker Leader of the Waveney Labour Group last night is that this is absolutely the wrong time for such an enormous increase which is morally indefensible and will look to residents as just plain greedy when the inevitable increase in Waveney District Council Tax lands on their doormat in a few weeks time. The Waveney Labour Group also emphasised that many Waveney residents are struggling with an increase in inflation and the failure of their wages to keep up with living costs as Waveney has one of the lowest average gross wages pa at £20,300 compared to £28,400 nationally’.

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