County councillors agree freeze on their £850,000 wage bill

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County councillors have today voted to continue a freeze on their allowances which totals £852,719.

It comes after an independent panel recommended continuing the freeze after it was asked to consider the level of allowances following the county elections on May 2.

All 49 county councillors are paid a basic allowance of £10,718, a total of £525,182.

There are additional special responsibility allowances for a raft of different roles, totalling £327,537.

For example, council leader Martin Tett is paid £39,709 while his deputy Mike Appleyard gets £26,473.

Cabinet members are entitled to £20,172, deputy cabinet members £5,046 and the chairs of select committees £10,092.

Council chairman Carl Etholen has an allowance of £12,610.

Councilors who head up their political parties, sit on certain other panels and committees or act as deputies in certain roles also receive additional allowances.

From May the number of councillors was reduced from 57 to 49. This would have saved more than £80,000, however the creation of deputy cabinet members and other changes to committee structures has reduced this saving to around £60,000.

Mike Appleyard, deputy leader of Buckinghamshire County Council said: “Clearly the panel’s recommendations on members’ allowances rightly reflected the financial pressures on today’s public sector.

“The main allowances paid to our councillors have now been frozen since 2009, and following the reduction in our overall numbers of Councillors from 57 to 49, we also expect make further savings of around £60,000 in our overall allowances budget.

“As a council, we believe that any increases in allowances would be entirely wrong given the financial pressures. I simply don’t understand how any organisation can justify rises of this kind at the moment.”

“I’m also pleased that we have been able to introduce new Select Committee arrangements to provide stronger scrutiny of our work and the work of partners and new deputy cabinet member roles. All these improvements have been made whist still delivering further savings.”

By law, all councils must establish an independent panel to review the range of allowances paid to their elected members.

Buckinghamshire’s Panel was chaired by Richard Benz, partner at Kidd Rapinet Solicitors in Aylesbury.

A full four-year review of all allowances is scheduled for 2014.