Horsham District councillors vote for increase in allowance

Parkside Chart Way Horsham - Horsham District Council and West Sussex County Council SUS-150723-162029001
Parkside Chart Way Horsham - Horsham District Council and West Sussex County Council SUS-150723-162029001
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Councillors will receive an increase in allowance after members voted for the rise at a Horsham District Council meeting on Wednesday September 9.

An Independent Remuneration Panel (IRP) review suggested further rises for prominent councillors, after members received a 2.2 per cent increase from January 1 2015.

During the full council meeting, held at Parkside, Horsham, the IRP was criticised by Rudgwick resident Paul Kornycky for not publicising their review as required by law.

He said: “As soon as reasonably practicable after receipt of the IRP report there should be stipulated publicity. I am unaware of any such publicity in the prescribed manner.

“Surely it is wholly inappropriate to first publicise the IRP recommendations after the ensuing scheme is set by the council? It will be a done deal before the public is properly informed.”

Paul Cummins, head of legal and democratic services at the council, said: “You are correct on the publicity requirements, which require the council to publish a notice in a newspaper as soon as is reasonably practical.

“The report was received on August 24. The government, in setting the requirements, if they wanted a notice immediately, would have said so.

“The indication was to publish a notice in the newspaper tomorrow (Thursday September 10) at the same time as a second notice stating what the council’s decision is. The notice will be published when practical.”

However, after the meeting Mr Kornycky added the lack of publicity reflects the council’s ‘disdainful attitude to residents’.

He said: “It speaks volumes of this council’s culture that the head of legal and democratic services concentrated on explaining a loophole in the regulations by which they could avoid their obligations to inform the public in local newspapers, yet he was not challenged as to why he had not arranged for any alternative publicity, not even on HDC’s own website!

“Fortunately the proposals were not overly contentious, but I do feel this is indicative of their disdainful attitude to residents.”

Almost all the councillors in attendance voted for the increase, with one abstention.

The report suggests several roles at the council start to receive a Special Responsibility Allowance (SRA), while also recommending rises for the leader and other committee chairmen and vice chairmen.

According to council figures the total amount of allowances paid to councillors was £311,800 in 2013/14, equating to £7,086 per member.

Under the report’s recommendations the deputy leader, currently Jonathan Chowen, would receive a new SRA of £1,500 on top of his basic allowance and £6,669 SRA for being a cabinet member, while the vice chairman of the council would also receive a new SRA of £1,620.

The chairmen of both the Business and Improvement Working Group and Finance and Performance Working Group, would both receive an SRA totalling £2,313.

As part of the changes leader of the council Ray Dawe would receive the basic allowance of £4,768 and £12,000 for being the leader, up by £1,228.

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