A feeble savings proposal totalling around £7m over the next three years will be considered by Lancashire County Council’s Cabinet when it meets on Thursday next week (7 December 2017). But they do not include stopping the number of councillors receiving special responsibility allowances after it was revealed that three-quarters of all Conservative county councillors received such an allowance on top of their more than £10,000 a year basic allowance.
OWL Adrian Owens said that he was shocked when a Freedom of Information request revealed that 33 Conservative county councillors receive these extra allowances worth typically £7-8,000 a year and sometimes more. There are currently only 42 Conservative county councillors in total. Perhaps the other 9 are wondering why not them?
The proposals, which cover plans as diverse as potentially closing some transport information centres, stopping the member grants scheme, and stopping some of the county council’s extra sheltered care support , have been worked up by senior council officers and will be presented to Cabinet as budget options.
Speaking about the proposals, County Councillor Geoff Driver CBE, Leader of Lancashire County Council, said “We have made no secret of the fact that the county council faces an extremely serious financial challenge. We know that we will face a funding gap of £161m in 2021/22 and that we will have spent the county council’s available reserves within the next two years. It is imperative that we put plans in place to make the necessary savings to secure a sustainable future for the county council, and the vital services that our most vulnerable residents rely on. That will inevitably mean making very difficult decisions and it is clear that these proposals will require very serious thought and consideration of their implications, when Cabinet meets next week”.
OWL Cllr Owens wrote “We’ve written to the Independent Panel that makes recommendations on county councillor allowances. Sadly, they don’t ask the public’s view and then they are sometimes ignored by the county councillors. However, we’ve proposed a limit of 16 councillors getting these special allowances. That would bring the ‘chiefs’ and ‘indians’ into a more appropriate balance and save many tens of thousands of pounds”.