Council pay rise thumbs up despite service cuts

AVDC leader Neil Blake
AVDC leader Neil Blake

Councillors are set to enjoy an increase in their allowances in a move which one member says is undemocratic.

Leader of Aylesbury Vale District Council Neil Blake took the decision to increase allowances by 1.5 per cent, with car mileage allowance increasing from 40 to 45p a mile.

Mr Blake, who claimed £20,226.13 in the last financial year, consulted with the council’s director of finance before signing off the decision.

But councillor Corry Cashman says that the decision should not have been made behind the scenes, and councillors taking any increase in pay is not right.

He said: “I object to the fact that the council has done something in a way that this not transparent and without a public debate.

“Also, I don’t think it is right because we are making cuts to services in difficult financial times, I don’t think these increases are justified in the current economic climate.”

Mr Cashman says that he will now look to find out if it is possible to opt out of claiming the increased expenses.

Every year Aylesbury Vale District Council hands out around £452,000 in expenses to its councillors.

Councillors are entitled to a basic allowance of £5,304, but this increases if they take on extra responsibilities, or decide to claim for travel expenses.

A spokesman for Aylesbury Vale District Council said: “Following consultation with the leader of the council and the director responsible for finance, allowances have been increased under delegated authority by 1.5%.

“The car mileage allowance has also been increased from 40p to 45p per mile to accord with the national HMRC rate.

“Members allowances were reviewed by an independent remuneration panel in 2011 and the updating of allowances is in line with the recommendations of the panel which were accepted by the council.”

We attempted to contact Neil Blake but he was unavailable for comment.