Protest can’t stop councillors voting for their own pay rise

Councillors have voted in favour of their own pay rise despite protests accusing them of having their “snouts in the trough”.

Cambridgeshire County Councillors will now enjoy a 25 per cent increase in their allowances after a vote was passed 33 to 29 at Shire Hall on Tuesday.

The new deal will see leader of the council Cllr Nick Clarke take home �38,000 a year, up from �29,246. The basic allowance each councillor receives has risen from �7,610 a year to �9,500.

Ahead of the meeting more than 20 protesters confronted councillors as they arrived for the meeting, one accusing them of having their “snouts in the trough”.

Steve Sweeney, who works in the public sector, said: “The constituents are feeling real hardship and there is no sign of it getting better, so to have our councillors so divorced from them. It’s quite frankly appalling.”

City councillor Kevin Price said he was “embarrassed” any councillors could vote for their own pay rise in this economic climate.

During the meeting, the Liberal Democrats boycotted the debate, only their leader Kilian Bourke spoke once.

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Labour leader Tariq Sadiq criticised the vote saying it is the “worst possible time” to increase allowances.

He said: “How can it be right when we have libraries and buses under a threat of closure, and how can it be right when we are facing a court case over the guided bus - now is not the time.”

Cllr Steve Tierney, one of four Conservative councillors to vote against the rise, said: “I would feel uncomfortable taking a rise when we are asking our people not to. it’s as simple as that.”

Independent Nicholas Harrison and Liberal Democrat Geoffrey Heathcock voted for the pay rise which brings the total council renumeration to �928,530.

In a comment which incensed Twitter users, Cllr Jeff Dutton accused public sector workers of hypocrisy and implied those protesting were on benefits. He said: “The people outside [protesting], they are probably getting more than what we are getting in our allowance in benefits.”

Cllr Clarke said the pay rise was necessary to “contribute to a vigorous and healthy local democracy”. Allowances had not been reviewed for five years.

Cllr Harrison, who voted for the rise, said: “We must be brave about this issue. We have to be brave to see in the next generation of democratic servants.”