Allowances row rages on at Warwickshire County Council but tax levies frozen

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OPPOSITION members have joined calls for the Tory cabinet of Warwickshire County Council to forgo part of their allowances and spend the money on services.

The county council’s budget was approved on Tuesday, where it was decided council tax would be frozen - with band D homes paying £1,144.25 for services such as schools, social services, roads and landfill. The comments from Lib Dem and Labour councillors come two weeks after a Conservative borough councillor, Howard Roberts, criticised Tory councillors in Warwickshire County Council for topping up their basic councillors’ allowance of £8,975 with Special Responsibility Allowances, including extra cash for being a spokesperson for the council or their party. Spokespersons’ allowances cost the council £36,000 a year.

Warwickshire’s Lib Dem group, led by borough and county councillor Jerry Roodhouse, said the authority’s cabinet of councillors should be reduced in accordance with the size of the council – which has shed more than 1,500 jobs – and the money spent on services.

Cllr Roodhouse said: “The Conservatives are not cutting their cloth to suit these straitened times.

“A cabinet of ten members is far too big when the council has been reduced from nine strategic directors to three, and paying spokespersons’ allowances to other members from the same political group is totally unjustified.”

The Lib Dems say the £51,000 annual saving generated would be used to remove the charging for public use of the People’s Network of computers at Warwickshire’s libraries.

Conservative council leader Alan Farnell said there would be no new cuts, no short-term measures and no gimmicks.

“Once again, we do not propose to increase the county council tax which remains at the level set back in 2010/11. We recognise that families’ budgets are being squeezed and we remain committed to providing residents with value for money. “We’ll continue to look closely at how we deliver services and are prioritising the services that residents consider important.”