Newman’s councillors set to give themselves another 2% raise

KEN LEE reports on the latest hike for the councillors’ allowances

Tony Newman, Croydon’s Labour council leader, and Prime Minister Theresa Mayhem appear to agree on at least one point: austerity is over.

At least it is if you’re among Newman’s clique at the Town Hall, where they have started to take steps to award themselves another handy little pay rise.

The matter is on the agenda for next week’s general purposes and audit committee (GPAC, in councilspeak), with an across-the-board 2 per cent increase recommended for all 70 of Croydon’s elected councillors. If the rise goes through – and there’s no reason to expect that it will not – it will be the first time in a decade that Croydon’s council allowances have been increased in successive years.

Newman – the sometime organ player for a little-known prog rock band who currently wallows in £55,546 of Council Tax-funded allowances – promptly oversaw a 2 per cent increase for councillors after last year’s local council elections, and he is implementing this rate of inflation increase this year on the premise that someone else told them to do it.

In the report being put before next Thursday’s committee meeting, it states that the 2 per cent rise “is keeping with the annual local government staff pay settlement for 2019-2020”.

Thumbs up: Tony Newman after getting news of his latest tax-funded pay rise

Which sort of implies that councillors are being treated like council staff, even though many – including Newman – are reluctant to detail the hours that they spend at the Town Hall or council offices, while many others – such as Newman’s big buddy, architect Paul Scott – are employed full-time in other jobs.

The opposition Tories at the Town Hall are likely to grumble a bit about increasing councillor allowances at a time when Council Tax is still being increased.

But as far as we can ascertain, none of Tory leader Tim Pollard’s 29 Conservative councillors has returned or refunded a single penny of the extra cash they have been paid since last year’s increase, not even those councillors who rarely bother to attend council or committee meetings.

In the council official’s (poorly drafted) report for next week’s GPAC meeting, they state, “In accordance with the Local Government Act 2000 and Local Authorities (Members’ Allowances) (England) Regulations 2003, Local Authorities are required to undertake a formal independent review of the level of allowances for their Members at least once every four years. In London, provision has been made for this review to be undertaken by an Independent Remuneration Panel (IRP)…

“The IRP recommended that the allowances they had recommended for adoption by London Local Authorities should be updated annually in accordance with the headline figure in the annual local government pay settlement.”

Louisa Woodley: £45,000 for chairing five meetings

Trebles all-round!

The big winner in last year’s Croydon council allowances reshuffle Louisa Woodley. Woodley is known in Katharine Street for being a close ally of Newman.

Despite being dropped from the inner cabal of the council cabinet last May, Woodley somehow managed to cling on to the council gravy train, finding herself still on a similar level of allowances – £45,168. This “special responsibility allowance” was for the special responsibility of chairing just five meetings of the health and well-being board in the course of the last 14 months. Most of the council’s other committee chairs receive £20,000 a year less than the preferential terms that Woodley found herself on.

Croydon Council Tax-payers already provide £1.5million per year in allowances for the borough’s 70 councillors.

This latest rise will cost them an additional £31,500 in 2019-2020, according to the council official’s own calculations. In true Blairite style, it is those already on the biggest allowances who will be getting the biggest increases: the biggest increase of all – £1,111 – will be going to the capo di tutti capi at the Town Hall, council leader Newman.

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4 Responses to Newman’s councillors set to give themselves another 2% raise

  1. Adrian Dennis says:

    It seems the days when Councillors gave up pay rises in respect of having to cut services to the paying public and other Council costs, acknowledging the limited pay rises for staff and other people in Croydon, have long gone. What the high pay level listed do not reveal is that some also have very high salaries or pensions as well so will be well able to manage without further inflated pay.

  2. Dave Scott says:

    What do you expect? They should lead by example. In Newman’s letter in April he says they have taken the difficult decision to raise tax due to a widening Government funding gap. What he didn’t say was that they were going to take the easy decision to recommend a pay rise for a number of officials that have failed to deliver. He says they remain committed to investing in local people – by that it would appear they mean themselves.

  3. sebastiantillinger7694 says:

    This issue underlies the problem in Croydon Council.

    Take a European City like Barcelona. If you are a successful barrister, architect or doctor and are known to your community, the accolade given back is that you are encouraged to stand for public office. Being an elected representative is often the culmination of a successful career and the standard of representatives is therefore exceptionally high.

    Think about it, a lady who runs a 2000 employee accounting business will make a really good councillor. Brings huge amount of experience, knowledge and experience to the role. She then has the respect of the electorate. She is also independently well paid and does not see the role as a means of getting money.

    In Croydon (and the UK), elected office at local level does not attract high calibre individuals – the reverse. That is a fact. Most are either unemployed, retired or have not progressed in their main careers. They therefore seek a councillor role for one of both of the following reasons: (1) They get self-affirmation, feel important and and are able to influence (all things lacking in their professional and personal lives – it arouses their ego. (2). Money – you can get £40 k for attending one or two meetings per month. For some councillors this doubles their annual income.

    It’s only when we can attract high calibre, achieving inviduals to public office in Croydon will we end the scourge of grabbing money from hard working council tax payers in this borough.

    One Croydon committee that without exception is made up entirely of low-achieving individuals is the Planning Committee. Imagine if they were all progressive, literate, informed and connected professionals – what a difference it would make.

    • David Mogoh says:

      You make some excellent points Sebastian.

      Utlimately they shouldn’t be paid a “salary” (that’s what it is) at all. Just a couple of hundred quid a month to cover genuine expenses.

      This would attract people that want to do it for the right reasons. Not necessarily the high calibre ones you long for, but those with their heart in the right place for sure.

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