Lancashire’s county councillors totted up an expenses and allowances bill of nearly £1.3m in the last financial year.
Now they have been accused of being “fat cats” by an independent councillor who failed to persuade his colleagues to sacrifice some of their claims at a time when the authority is bringing in a 5.99 per cent increase in council tax.
Coun Paul Greenall says councillors should stop all travel and subsistence claims. He also wants to see special political allowances for the whips and secretaries of the Tory and Labour Groups axed.
Finally he wants the number of councillors receiving special allowances to be cut from 39 per cent to 22 per cent.
But his proposals were cold-shouldered when he put them to a full meeting of Lancashire County Council.
Instead, during the council’s annual review of allowances, councillors approved increases linked to the average increase in council workers’ pay and the Consumer Price Index.
Coun Greenall resigned the Tory whip in July last year after claiming colleagues tried to stop him from raising the issue of reducing allowances.
He said: “County Hall is a gravy train for greedy fat cat councillors who want taxpayers to give them more than their generous £10,466 basic allowance. Given that most taxpayers cannot claim for travel and meals when they go to work, why should they fund these benefits for councillors? Also why should taxpayers’ money be used for political roles – shouldn’t these positions be funded by the political parties?”
Liberal Democrat group leader Coun David Whipp failed to get support for his proposal to reduce special responsibility payments by 10 per cent. He said: “The bottom line is using our reserves at the rate we are this council will not be able to balance its budget in three years’ time. It’s a modest suggestion how councillors can cut their coat according to their cloth.”
Coun Azhar Ali, leader of the council’s Labour group, said allowances were advised by an independent remuneration panel and Coun Greenall should raise his concerns with that panel.
He added: “I don’t claim subsistence allowances as if I was working somewhere I would expect to pay for my own lunch. I do claim for travel like other councillors Some councillors can travel 60, 50 or 40 miles for meetings.”
No comment was available from council leader and Tory councillor Geoff Driver.
How it all adds up
Total Bill for councillors' allowances 2016/17 amounted to almost £1.3m.
Mileage allowance : £41,000 plus
Public transport allowances: £3,500
Subsistence allowances: £4,000 plus
Special responsibility allowances: nearly £355,000
Basic allowance received by all councillors: £10,466
Chairman’s allowance - £15,693
Vice Chairman’s allowance - £7,847
Special responsibility allowances:
Council leader County - £29,886
Deputy Leader County- £20,920
Cabinet members (six councillors) - £16,437
Lead members (five councillors) - £8,218
Champions (five councillors) £5,230
Committee Chairs (five councillors) - £7,471
Deputy Committee Chairs (five Councillors) - £3,152
Majority Group group (Conservatives)
Secretary - £4,483
Whip - £4,483
Largest Opposition Group (Labour)
Leader - £16,437
Deputy Leader - £8,218
Secretary - £2,989
Whip - £2,989
Councilors can claim up to the following amounts if away from home for
a) less than four hours - £6.62
b) between four and eight hours - £13.15
c)Between eight and 12 hours - £26.34
d) More than 12 hours - £39.48
Cars and vans: 45p for first 10,000 miles and 25p for above 10,000 miles
Cycles: 20p per mile
Motorcycles: 24p per mile