Emergency meeting of standards committee will consider allowances debacle whilst chief executive says buck stops with him

CHIEF executive Mark Lloyd has revealed that should an emergency meeting of the county council’s standards committee decide errors were made in the councillors’ pay review then he will carry the blame.

“Let me be clear that responsibility lies in the officer domain- and ultimately with me as chief executive and not with councillors as the initial Twitter/media speculation suggests,” he said.

Mr Lloyd, who famously took a five per cent pay cut just months before councillors voted themselves a 25 per cent pay rise, said he would shoulder the blame “should the committee conclude that any errors were made with regards to the panel appointment”.

The special standards committee next Tuesday (November 1) will want to know who took the decision to convene the independent panel which, according to the council’s constitution, should have been their responsibility.

Quentin Baker, director of legal services, confirmed today he had been asked to review the process “utilised to make the recent appointments to the independent remuneration panel”.

He told former Cambridge councillor Clare Blair that he can confirm “that I had no involvement in establishing the panel and as such, I am satisfied that I have a sufficiently objective perspective to undertake this review.

“I am currently gathering information and drafting my report which will be presented to the standards committee for consideration at its meeting scheduled for November 1.

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“My report will be published as soon as it is complete which I hope will be no later than Thursday this week.”

Ms Blair has been told she can speak at the meeting and has tabled a series of questions including how the review chairman Dr Declan Hall was appointed and “the specific remit given to the panel.”

Meanwhile Cambridge Lib Dems have launched a campaign to reverse the 25 per cent rise and plan to present a petition to the December meeting of the council.

The petition was launched at Saturday’s regional Lib Dem conference by Councillor Kilian Bourke, leader of the Cambridgeshire Lib Dems.

He said offering such rises at a time when the council is laying off staff and freezing council tax “not acceptable.”

“In order to stop this from going ahead the Liberal Democrats have put a motion to council to rescind the increase. We have also started an online petition to give voice to public opinion.”

“The leader of the Conservatives has called this cheap politics. It is not cheap politics. It is expensive politics: 25 per cent more expensive.”

Cambridge MP Julian Huppert said: “This increase shows just how out of touch the county Conservatives are. At a time when everyone else is facing pay freezes or cuts, it is crassly insensitive for the county Tories to be pushing through whopping pay rises for themselves.

“I hope that in the cold light of day they will realise their mistake. I support my Lib Dem County colleagues completely in their efforts to get them to change their minds.”