The proposal has been roundly criticised by Croydon Labour, who have accused Fisher “treating taxpayers, Council staff and the people of Croydon with contempt”.
In common with all public service workers, following the Conservative-led government’s budget and spending review, Croydon council employees fear that 1 in 4 of them could soon lose their jobs, while all others face a two-year pay freeze.
Not councillor Fisher, though.
The report, to be voted on at Wednesday evening’s Corporate Services Committee, recommends that the council leader should be paid £64,824 a year.
It says: “This is a full-time job, involving a high level of responsibility. It is right that it should be remunerated on a basis which compares with similar positions in the public sector, whilst still retaining a reflection of the voluntary character of public service. The most appropriate measure is, in our view, that of a backbench MP.
“The functions of a full-time Leader of a London borough must be at least as onerous as those of an MP, and it would be quite wrong to expect that they could be remunerated at a lower rate, even excluding (as we do) the generous expenses package to which a backbench MP is entitled.
“We propose that the remuneration package for a Council Leader under Band Four of our scheme should be £64,824.”
Local Labour councillors (there are no LibDems on Croydon Council) fear that because the Corporate Services Committee has a majority of Tory councillors, the proposal will go through. They are demanding that Fisher refuses to accept any pay increase.
Councillor Tony Newman, the leader of Croydon’s Labour Group said, “For Councillor Fisher to have his snout in the trough and be seeking to pay himself this outrageous amount at the same time as his government’s policies and cuts are seeing so many council staff set to lose their jobs is frankly disgusting.
“He should be ashamed of himself.
“He is treating taxpayers, Council staff and the people of Croydon with contempt.”
The Conservative-led council has already cut £60 million from its annual budget over the past four years in “efficiency savings”, with another £70 million of cuts expected to be made to local services in the borough as a result of the new government’s public service axing. The council has already lost £4.5 million from the grant it receives from central government.
Last week, Fisher described the cuts as “tough decisions that will not be universally welcome”.
“We’re not in this to win popularity,” Fisher said in reaction to the cut-backs announcement. “We need to run efficient services that residents rely on.
“In difficult times that we’re all enduring, we need to make difficult choices.
“Although many people value enormously the wide range of what the council does for them, there are even more who say the most important thing we can do when their wallets and purses are feeling the pinch is to keep our own costs down.”
A spokesman for Croydon Council told Inside Croydon, “The allowances available to councillors are recommended by an independent body to keep them in line with other authorities, and will be decided by the full council in July. The council’s Corporate Services Committee will consider them first and make a recommendation.”