West Sussex county councillors could claim twice for parking under new expenses rules

County Hall Chichester
County Hall Chichester

Claims that councillors could be paid twice for parking due to new expenses rules will be ‘investigated’ by West Sussex County Council.

In mid October West Sussex county councillors approved an increase in their mileage rate from 53.8p per mile to 59.25p per mile, based on calculations provided by the AA.

Previous mileage rates had been set using RAC figures, but unlike the AA figures these did not include the cost of parking and tolls.

Councillors can still claim separately for parking, alongside the increased mileage rates, which came into force on November 1.

Rudgwick resident Paul Kornycky, who spearheaded the campaign to save Broadbridge Heath Leisure Centre, said the increase demonstrated a total failure of ‘empathy and leadership’ in the council.

He questioned why county councillors should receive a far higher mileage rate than neighbouring authorities, or their own employees.

A spokesperson for West Sussex County Council said: ‘We can confirm that a complaint has been received about the mileage rate used for member travel claims for official business.

“The issues raised in the complaint will be investigated and a full response given in the next few days.

“The county council recently decided to remove the three-year freeze on member allowances and expenses.

“In doing so it was not possible to include the car mileage rate on the scheme used before the freeze, as it no longer exists. The nearest similar rate was used.”

The change to expenses, including a one per cent increase in allowances, and a 2.7 per cent rise in subsistence costs, angered campaigners as it comes as a time when WSCC is looking to make £140m savings.

Writing in the County Times this week leader of the WSCC Louise Goldsmith (Con, Chichester West) said the financial challenge facing them was ‘immense’.