Bid to cut councillors’ allowances proposed

Three councillors could find themselves taking a ‘pay’ cut if a proposal to reduce the number of allowances they are allowed to claim is given the go-ahead.

A meeting of Crawley Borough Council’s general purposes committee this evening (Wednesday November 21) is due to discuss whether to cut the number of Special Responsibility Allowances (SRAs) to which members are entitled from two to one.

The allowances are given to councillors who take on extra responsibilities – such as chairing committees or holding a Cabinet portfolio – and are paid on top of the basic £5,949 allowance which they all receive.

Currently, councillors are entitled to claim for two special responsibilities and the proposed change would bring Crawley into line with West Sussex County Council, whose members are only entitled to claim one.

A council spokesman confirmed that the three borough councillors who currently claim more than one allowance are: Cllr Richard Burrett (Con, Pound Hill North), Cllr Karl Williamson (Con, Southgate) and Cllr Michael Jones (Lab, Northgate).

Cllr Burrett serves as Cabinet member for housing as well as chair of the general purposes committee, which is responsible for recommendations to the council in areas such as constitutional issues, members’ allowances, by-law and elections.

Cllr Jones is vice-chair of the overview and scrutiny committee, whose role is to role is to scrutinise the full range of council activities.

He also serves on the standards committee, the staff appeals board and the grant appeals board.

Cllr Williamson is vice-chair of the licensing committee and sits on the overview and scrutiny panel, the community and value for money policy development forum and the town centre working group.

A council spokesman said: “One SRA per member is operational elsewhere, including at West Sussex County Council.

“Over the long-term, it is possible that the restriction encourages a broader range of people taking on council roles.

“There is not a specific money-saving agenda. Such a saving would only occur if a councillor currently receiving more than one SRA continued to hold the positions that currently attract an SRA.

“The policy could also tend to demonstrate even more clearly the public service ethos of taking on roles because of what people can contribute, without this being linked to formal payment.”