Rugby Borough Council leader agrees to reduce his allowance to fund a deputy leader

Rugby Town Hall.
Rugby Town Hall.

Rugby council's leader has agreed to cut his allowance to fund the appointment of a deputy leader.

Rugby council’s previous leader Cllr Michael Stokes was paid an allowance of £18,240 a year, £5,315 more than the average for similar councils in the area.

Cllr Stokes was paid more than average because he did not have a deputy – but when new leader Cllr Seb Lowe took power in May he cut his own allowance to fund the installation of deputy leader Cllr Derek Poole.

In November last year the council agreed to the setting up an Independent Remuneration Panel to review the allowances given to council members.

That panel met four times and its report, prepared in April, was presented to the council in the agenda issued ahead of a full council meeting held on Thursday, July 18.

The panel noted that the previous leader’s £18,240 allowance was the highest among the group of similar councils in the area for which the panel has figures for comparison.

Including Rugby council, the average leader’s allowance among nearby authorities was £12,925.

The reason for the comparatively large allowance dates back to a decision made in 2010 by a previous council leader Craig Humphrey.

The decision saw Rugby council become the first authority in the UK to combine the elected role of council leader with the six-figure salary role of chief executive – the latter usually being a council officer rather than an elected councillor.

The move attracted much controversy both locally and nationally – and an Independent Renumeration Panel said there had been ‘little thought or reflection’ on ‘accountability, transparency and openness’.

Adding: “The council leader can no more be a chief executive than a chief executive can be leader.”

Because the council leader had taken on more responsibilities, the report recommended increasing his allowance.

It was estimated that not replacing the chief executive would save the authority around £104,000 a year.

Rugby council was, until the appointment of Cllr Poole, the only authority in the area without a designated deputy.

Previously, in the leader’s absence, the council would delegate decisions to the relevant portfolio holder.

The panel’s report, although noting there was evidence this system was effective, stated it may not conform to legislation.

By the time the report was seen by the council in July Cllr Poole had been deputy for two months.