No increase in cash paid to Yarmouth councillors

CASH paid to Great Yarmouth councillors will not increase this year, the authority’s Labour leader has confirmed.

Trevor Wainwright also stressed cabinet meetings will be held in public - following opposition claims of secrecy - and said changes to meeting dates are not to make it harder for people to attend.

Scrutiny meetings were brought forward to Mondays under the Tory administration to help the Great Yarmouth Mercury publicise decisions in the same week’s paper.

But Labour have shifted the meetings to Thursday afternoons - too late for coverage in the same week’s Mercury.

Mr Wainwright has stressed that this was not to be less transparent, but was logical for members.

“It’s nothing to do with transparency,” he said.

“It’s working around members’ work commitments - Thursday was the best day.”

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Mr Wainwright added he would not look to increase allowances, but had no choice as raising allowance payments was not permitted while council workers’ pay is frozen.

“Even if staff took an increase in pay, we wouldn’t take a pay rise as councillors,” he vowed. “And that’s in recognition of the wider economic situation.”

All 39 councillors will continue to receive a basic allowance of �3,579 per year, with top-ups for additional responsibilities - including �9,857 for leader Mr Wainwright and �4,151 for shadow leader Ron Hanton.

Labour cabinet members Penny Linden, Val Pettit, Michael Jeal, Bernard Williamson and Brian Walker will receive �5,475 each - with shadow cabinet members receiving �894 each.

There is a �1,788 payment for mayor Colleen Walker and �717 for deputy Barry Coleman, with further allowances for councillors who sit on various committees at the town hall.

Councillors can also claim for travel and subsistence.

Mr Wainwright was also keen to stress that the ruling group will hold decision-making meetings in public, following opposition claims that there would be a closed cabinet.

“We’re sticking to our election pledge to be open and transparent,” said Mr Wainwright.

“As far as these rumours about decisions behind closed doors - that won’t happen.”

There will be private briefings with officers before meetings, but Mr Wainwright assured people that all decision-making will be public - and that public meetings will not be a box-ticking exercise after the real decisions were made in secret.

“There won’t be any decisions made behind closed doors,” he added.

“It will just be a pre cabinet meeting.

“We will have briefings with officers as the previous administration did.”