Pressure group tells Cambridgeshire council leader: You are our pinhead

COUNCIL leader Nick Clarke today picked up an award from the Taxpayers Alliance though whether he’ll be rushing to collect it in person is doubtful.

The campaigning group, with 65,000 grassroots supporters, has “named and shamed him” Pinhead of the Month.

Jonathan Isaby, political director of the alliance, said that award is for “whoever is found to have shown the greatest disregard for taxpayers’ cash”.

Cllr Clarke is leader of Cambridgeshire County Council and Mr Isaby said the award was to recognise his moves to increase councillors’ allowances “by an eye watering 25 per cent.

“Only four of his fellow Conservatives voted against the rise, which will increase councillors’ allowances from �7,610 to �9,500 and Cllr Clarke’s own package from �29,856 to �38,000. The changes will cost Cambridgeshire council tax payers an extra �166,000 a year.”

Mr Isaby said: “The TaxPayers’ Alliance has always believed that key to delivering taxpayer value for money is exposing those in power to public scrutiny by ensuring that there is transparency and openness in how they spend our hard-earned cash.”

He added that the alliance has also introduced another award to recognise good value and this month awarded Pin Up of the Month to MP Margaret Hodge for her work as chairman of the Parliamentary Public Accounts Committee.

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“She is a redoubtable committee chairman whose mission is, in her own to words, ‘to ensure value for money for the taxpayer’” he said. “We salute her and her colleagues for their work, in particular this month for their part in holding HMRC to account for dodgy deals with Goldman Sachs.”

“Unfortunately Cambridgeshire taxpayers have this month badly been let down by their county council leader, Nick Clarke, who – along with all but four of his Tory colleagues – voted for a massive increase in their own allowances.

“A 25 per cent hike in the taxpayers’ cash that councillors take for themselves would be hard to justify in the best of times, but when council employees are facing pay freezes and the council is looking for all kinds of savings, it really is profligate in the extreme.”

A council spokesman said of the increase that “it brings Cambridgeshire into the same bracket as other county councils in terms of what councillors receive for doing their job.

“It also means that we are far less likely to experience a democratic deficit in terms of attracting people to stand for election – and also will make it easier to retain good councillors who were struggling financially on the previous level of allowance.”