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Parties unite to demand special meeting to reverse pay rise for councillors

PUBLISHED: 14:53 16 December 2017 | UPDATED: 14:54 16 December 2017

Steve Morphew, leader of the Labour group on Norfolk County Council. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Steve Morphew, leader of the Labour group on Norfolk County Council. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

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The first move has been made in the bid to reverse the controversial decision by councillors to award themselves big increases in their allowances.

County Hall in Norwich. Picture: Steve Adams County Hall in Norwich. Picture: Steve Adams

The leaders of the two largest opposition parties at Norfolk County Council, Labour and the Liberal Democrats, have written to chairman John Ward to ask for a special meeting to be called.

Labour Steve Morphew and Lib Dem leader Dan Roper are proposing the following resolution: “This Council resolves to rescind the resolution relating the councillor allowances passed on 11 December 2017.”

The letter says: “Dear Chairman. On behalf of the councillors who are members of our two groups we are writing to request you to ask the Managing Director to call a special Council.

“We have with our combined membership support from more than the 21 members required for a motion to rescind and more than the five required to ask the MD to call such a meeting should you decline.

“Our view is that this will be best done as soon as possible and we believe it is constitutionally possible to call a special meeting as soon as Friday 22 December. Although that is a very tight timescale our members will be willing to make the effort to bring this to a close.”

The move comes on the day that the EDP made a front-page plea to councillors to go back on the decision to hike their allowances, saying it was the “wrong move at the wrong time”.

The council voted on Monday to increase the basic allowance for its 84 councillors by 11pc, despite an independent panel recommending no change.

The panel acknowledged Norfolk councillors get less than counterparts on other councils.

But “mindful” of cuts, they said the basic allowance should remain at £9,401 for next year, with a review in 2018.

However, the Conservative-controlled administration recommended a basic allowance increase to £10,500 and a hike in the special responsibility allowance of the leader from £27,495 to £31,900.

It was agreed by 39 votes to 26, with two abstentions.

Increases to allowances for the chair of children’s services and adult social care, which the panel did recommend, were also agreed.

If all councillors claimed what they are entitled to, the bill would come to £142,000.

The decision’s timing sparked criticism, as the council consults over cuts and savings to help plug a £125m funding gap.

Spending on bus subsidies, children’s centres, gritting and road maintenance is all under threat, while there is a mooted council tax rise of 4.9pc.

Labour, the Liberal Democrats and a handful of Conservatives voted against the allowances increase, although Mr Jordan said it was the right thing to do and was about “fairness”.

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