LABOUR councillors on Cumberland have voted to give themselves a £300,000 pay rise, just weeks after announcing a £29m overspend in their budget.
Members of the ruling group have today (21st November) approved the whopping increase, which was carried by 31 votes to 10 with two abstentions.
The Conservatives voted against the increase alongside three Independents, but Labour and the Liberal Democrats voted overwhelmingly in favour of a pay rise, with two abstentions (one Labour and one Green).
This increase will see members’ allowances skyrocket from around £300,000 to over £900,000 in a little over 12 months, with nearly 1/3 of the total to the those at the top table.
Executive members will now have seen their income rise by 210 per cent, while the Leader of the council will have had a 137% rise to over £750 a week.
Conservative members voted against the move, branding it a “reward for failure” and “pure greed”.
Mike Johnson, leader of the Conservative Group on Cumberland, said: “When you factor in members’ allowances from Cumberland’s time as a Shadow Authority, this means the council has trebled its bill for allowances in just over 12 months to nearly £1million.
“It really sticks in the craw that the Executive of Cumberland, and their comrades in the Labour Party, think they deserve a pay rise after creating a multi-million pound blackhole the council.
“This is the same council that hiked council tax in parts of the authority by seven per cent, one of the largest rises in England, and presided over almost six months bin chaos in the former Allerdale area at the same time.
“The additional funding required to prevent months of bin strikes was £150,000, yet in just over 12 months, Labour councillors will have spent more than four times that amount on their own pay rises.
“They pulled the plug on a fully-funded pool in Maryport because they said it wasn’t financially sustainable. Well, it certainly isn’t sustainable for the taxpayer to keep Cumberland’s Labour councillors in the manner to which they have become accustomed.
“Rather than protecting services, Labour councillors have their snouts in the trough. This is pure greed. It is an aggravating factor that the people they were elected to serve are contending with rises in the cost of living while they choose to line their own pockets.
“The council had £30m annual savings projected following local government reform, and they had almost a year as a shadow authority to realise those savings, and to prepare for their responsibilities.
“Instead, its failing leadership has managed to create a £29m overspend – they are rewarding themselves for failure, incompetence, and financial mismanagement.”
The pay rise comes after Cumberland took the unusual step of asking the Government’s permission to borrow to pay for day-to-day spending. In the first six months as a unitary authority, they’ve ran up a multi-million blackhole in council finances while council buildings sit empty.
According to the report, seventeen councillors attended interviews about the proposals – an unusually high number.