Canterbury City Councillors have vowed not to hike their allowances for at least the next two years, unless staff at the authority also see a pay increase.
The total cost of councillors per person living in Canterbury, Whitstable, Herne Bay and the villages is already just £1.83 – the only area in Kent where each resident pays less than £2. And the decision, made at last night’s (Thursday’s) full council meeting, will mean it will remain the cheapest district in Kent.
Maidstone councillors are the nearest in cost per resident, at £2.10, while Dartford is the most expensive, with each person having to fork out £3.79 to cover their councillors’ allowances and expenses.
Canterbury City Council leader Simon Cook said limiting any future increases was the right thing to do.
He said: “Everyone knows council finances are under strain, and I am proud to lead a Conservative administration at Canterbury City Council where the cost per resident for councillors is lower than any other district in Kent.
“This is no accident; we have deliberately kept the cost of councillors – in allowances and expenses – low so that we can use residents’ tax money to provide the local services they cherish and deserve.
“It also means those people elected to represent residents are motivated by a desire to serve their communities, rather than by a pay packet at the end of each month.”
Cllr Cook, who represents Nailbourne ward, proposed the motion at last night’s meeting, and it was seconded by Cllr Neil Baker, who represents Tankerton.
Cllr Baker added: “It is right that councillors should receive some sort of remuneration so that the role is open to everyone, not just those with large incomes from elsewhere.
“But it is crucial that the amount is proportionate and I am delighted that we have agreed to peg any increase to the level of the staff pay award or the Consumer Price Index measure of inflation, whichever is lower.
“Since 2015, the cost of councillors has gone down, with an annual saving of almost £90,000, and we are committed to keeping it low to provide best value for our residents.”
Two of Canterbury’s nearest neighbours, Swale and Thanet, cost residents £2.74 and £2.75 per person respectively for the cost of councillors. In Ashford, the amount is £2.90 per person.
Figures taken from 2016/17 budgets for all councils bar Dover, which are end of year published figures for 2016/17.