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County and District councillors have cost taxpayers more than £1.18 million in allowances

By Leek Post and Times  |  Posted: June 11, 2014

By Leslie Jackson

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Figures released show that Staffordshire county councillors claimed £931,896.85 during the last financial year while Staffordshire Moorlands councillors claimed £253,911.02.

The allowances have been criticised in the light of a raft of cuts to services, including the closure of day centres; the downgrading of Moorlands Day Services; cuts of up to 400 youth workers' jobs; the closure of Leek Day Nursery and the loss of many jobs on the Moorlands council.

The money is made up of a basic allowance, plus special responsibility allowances for cabinet members and chairmen of the Conservative-controlled councils, along with mileage and subsistence.

Staffordshire Moorlands county councillors have each claimed between £9,042.61 and £26,640.96 from the county, while district councillors have claimed between £2,901.96 and £13,731.72 from the Moorlands council.

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Dia Chakravarty, Political Director at the TaxPayers' Alliance, said: "This is exactly the sort of behaviour that undermines taxpayers' faith in the public sector.

"Cutting frontline services while councillors pay themselves hundreds and thousands of pounds in allowances is absolutely disgraceful.

"The council clearly has its priorities wrong and must do better to provide hard-pressed residents with the services they're paying their taxes towards."

However, Ian Parry, the county council deputy leader and cabinet member for finance, defended the payments.

He said: "Allowances in Staffordshire are set by an independent panel who look at what is happening locally and in other areas.

"They have been frozen for the last five years in recognition of the financial situation.

"Those allowances, which start at just under £9,000 for a local councillor and increase in line with extra responsibilities, reflect the time and energy colleagues from all parties spend representing and working with local people and organisations across

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Staffordshire. If we want to attract people from all backgrounds, ages and walks of life into public service, to champion their communities, we have to make sure that it is financially viable, and the independent panel feels the current level of allowances strike the right balance with providing value for money for local people."

But retired Leek lecturer Reg Davies said: "The county council is cutting essential services in the core sector. Young people with learning difficulties are relegated to a life of misery and hopelessness. Healthy young people need inspiration, example and leadership – denied because of cuts to youth workers. At the same time, councillors are raking in thousands of pounds in allowances."

Moorlands resident and retired engineer Roger Cannon said: "I just cannot believe the amount of money these elected councillors are claiming. Youth clubs, day centres – everything which residents depend on – are being closed down, while these democratically-elected councillors are claiming thousands. This is totally wrong. These councillors should be ashamed of themselves. It simply beggars belief."

County council leader Phillip Atkins claimed £49,984.51, while his counterpart at the district council, Sybil Ralphs, claimed £13,731.72. Figures show Ms Ralphs attended 314 meetings during the last year.

However, two district councillors only attended four and five meetings respectively during the entire year.

A Staffordshire Moorlands District Council spokesman said: "The basic allowance for members of the council is among the lowest in the country. While attendance at meetings is recorded and published, the work individual members do in their wards and on behalf of their constituents is not recorded in the same way, and the allowance covers every aspect of their duties as local councillors. The scheme for the district council does not operate in the same way as for some parish councils, but members would not be allowed to go beyond six months without attending a meeting."

Details of all the allowances claimed by councillors are available on the councils' respective websites.

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3 comments

  • marleymarl  |  June 12 2014, 7:25AM

    Disgraceful, this is what Big Dave and his army of cons have done. Conned the people and destroyed people's lives. They don't give a damn about anyone apart from themselves.

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  • JonJed  |  June 11 2014, 2:55PM

    A right load of money grabbing ********TS Should be paid in rusty washers even that's to much for what they have done to LEEK

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