To consider a report of the Chief Executive on the Members’ Allowances Scheme (attached).
NOTE: The deadline for receipt of amendments to reports published with the final agenda is midnight, Monday 23 May.
Four questions on the report by the Residents’ Group responded to by the Leader of the Council.
Amendment on behalf of the Upminster and Cranham Residents’ Associations Group NOT CARRIED by 30 votes to 24; amendment on behalf of the Independent Residents’ Group NOT CARRIED by 29 votes to 19; deemed motion on behalf of the Administration CARRIED by 31 votes to 23.
Council noted the amended recommendation of the report as follows:
Amended recommendation of report:
That the changes to the Members’ Allowances Scheme be implemented as per the report, subject to the addition of paragraph 11 as shown below:
11 Financial Limits
The Chief Operating Officer will arrange for the budget for members allowances to be monitored to ensure that budgetary issues are reported to Members.
(a) Increases in Allowances
Basic Allowances as quoted will be updated for 2018/19 by any 2018/19 increases as agreed under the annual Local Government Pay Settlement of the Joint Negotiating Committee for Chief Officers of Local Authorities or its replacement under the local pay agreement. The amounts so calculated are to be rounded up to be divisible for payment purposes.
The amended basic allowance will be found on the Internet once any annual % uplifts have been agreed.
The Travelling and Subsistence allowances will be increased in line with the increase in officer rates.
The following questions on the report were submitted by the Residents’ Group:
1. Given that the same number of opposition groups exist after the recent local elections as before them, would the Leader of the Council provide an explanation as to how the opposition groups have become more diverse and what evidence can he provide to demonstrate that the workload of all the opposition Group Leaders will reduce by half to reflect the proposed 50% reduction in Leaders allowances?
2. Under The Local Authorities (Members’) Regulations 2003, it states that before a scheme is amended, the authority shall have due regards to the recommendations made by an Independent remuneration panel, in this case, London Councils. Would the Leader of the Council explain how this due regard was considered in relation to the SRA for the Leader of the Opposition which it is proposed be over 50% less than the recommended MINIMUM by London Councils?
3. Given that the above report from London Councils places in Band two, the Leader of the Opposition and the Chair of the Scrutiny Board, would the Leader of the Council explain why there has been such discrimination in how these roles have been treated in terms of remuneration?
4. Given the generous allowance proposed for the Vice-Chair of Strategic Planning Committee and the limited number of occasions when vice-chairs are used in this council, Would the Leader of the Council confirm how he justifies equating the remuneration of this position with the role and workload performed by the Leader of the opposition.
Response to questions by the Leader of the Council
This Council has a very large number of small opposition groups (5) compared with other London Boroughs which often have only one or two. The largest of those Groups in this Council has only 8 members, the smallest has 3. The proposed allowances for Group Leaders are more proportionate, having regard to the overall responsibilities of those roles, the small number of members they are responsible for, and comparing those roles in the Council with the responsibilities of other SRA roles. The Strategic Planning roles for example will both involve a large number of meetings, including with developers, and will require high level decision making on matters of critical importance to our residents.
The Council is required to ‘have regard’ to the Panel recommendations, which means it must consider the report but is not bound by it, thus recognising that there are differences between Councils and one size does not fit all. The proposed Members’ Allowance Scheme reflects the respective responsibilities and duties of the various SRA posts moving forwards, and results overall in a Members’ Allowance total budget spend broadly in line with that previously agreed.
Deemed motion on behalf of the Administration
That the report be adopted and its recommendations carried into effect.
Amendment on behalf of the Upminster and Cranham Residents’ Associations Group
As shown in track changes on the attached document (see appendix 1 to minutes).
Amendment on behalf of the Independent Residents’ Group
Council agrees minority group leader SRAs to remain the same @ £4,000
The amendment on behalf of the Upminster and Cranham Residents’ Associations Group was NOT CARRIED by 30 votes to 24 (see division 25); the amendment on behalf of the Independent Residents’ Group was NOT CARRIED by 29 votes to 19 (see division 26) and the deemed motion on behalf of the Administration was CARRIED by 31 votes to 23 (see division 27).
That the changes to the Members’ Allowances Scheme be implemented as per the report, subject to the addition of paragraph 11 as shown above.
Note: The agreed Members’ Allowances Scheme (subject to the addition of paragraph 11 shown above is given as appendix 2 to these minutes.