A ROW has flared up over how much allowances Rugby Borough councillors should be entitled to.
Cllr Howard Roberts wants to reduce the current basic allowance in line with the rest of Warwickshire and pass on the savings on to council tax payers. At £6,227.04 Rugby has the highest basic allowance in the county, the lowest being Stratford District Council’s figure of £4,500 and North Warwickshire Borough Council – the next highest after Rugby – having £4,942. If Rugby kept the same council structure, but used the same allowance system as Stratford, it would save at least £77,000 a year, even with Rugby’s leadership arrangements.
Cllr Roberts, independent member for Dunsmore Ward, said: “The public endlessly hear council officials talk about reducing back office costs without hitting front-line services – this proposal does exactly that.
“If we can use this saving to cut council tax I believe it would be appreciated by many in the Borough. As wages remain static while retail prices increase, any reduction in household expenditure will be welcomed.”
He added that his alternative budget would save £123,232. He estimates this would cut the borough’s share of council tax by nearly two per cent.
Cllr Craig Humphrey, Leader of Rugby Borough Council, said: “While it is true that our allowances are slightly higher than some of our neighbouring authorities, it is also true that those neighbouring authorities support a chief executive’s office, whose costs will be considerably more than the saving that Cllr Roberts has proposed.
“By changing the council’s management structure we chose to take a large reduction in management costs alongside a small increase in allowances.
“The borough council budget will be set at a meeting of full council to be held on 26 February. All councillors will have an opportunity to take part, and that is the forum where any proposals should be debated. Any member may, of course, decide not to receive their allowance at any time.”
Andrew Gabbitas, Executive Director for Rugby Borough Council, added: “Councillors’ allowances and special responsibility allowances were set by the full council at its meeting of September 2010, after an independent review. It is for the full council to decide whether or not to commission another independent review.”