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Mid Devon Council increases own allowances by 23%
9:01am Friday 31st August 2012 in Devon
A WATCHDOG says it will be up to the people of Mid Devon to decide whether councillors were right to hand themselves a 23% rise in allowances.
Mid Devon District Council says raising the annual sum given to its 42 members from £3,654 to £4,500 was based on independent advice.
The Taxpayers Alliance claims the increase is the second biggest of its type in the country.
The council said the move brought its allowances closer to other districts and hopes it will encourage more people to stand for election. It claims an independent panel pinpointed low allowances as putting off people from diverse backgrounds from standing for election.
Council leader Peter Hare-Scott said: “At the last election some wards were uncontested, and none of the political groups were able to field candidates in every seat. This is not good for democracy.
“We want to attract more diverse candidates who are more representative of the Mid Devon population and adjusting the allowances they receive should make this more realistic for younger, working-age people.
“Clearly, the fact that councillors ourselves had to make the final decision on whether to accept or ignore the recommendations of the independent panel put us in an awkward position. While we're acutely aware of the financial pressures on the council, letting councillors' allowances slip further out of line with the mainstream would not serve the council well in the future.”
The Taxpayers' Alliance said Boston Borough was the only other district council to award itself a bigger increase at 28%.
Chris Daniel, of the alliance, said: “Giving themselves a 23% allowance increase is absolutely outrageous and their excuse that they have to catch up with the rest of the country is quite laughable, and I think the public would feel the same.
“Now that the information's out there the people of Mid Devon can decide for themselves whether or not they think this is appropriate.”