Boston Borough Council hits back at 'fat cats' label after increase in allowances
INCREASES in members' allowances that led to Boston borough coun- cillors being labelled 'fat cats' in the national press have been defended by the council.
A Taxpayers' Alliance investigation of percentage increases in councillors' allowances across the country showed Boston Borough Council came top in the country with a 28 per cent increase for 2010/11.
But council spokesman Andrew Malkin said the increase had not been put into context.
"The Taxpayer's Alliance report actually reveals that in 2010/11, out of the 435 councils it looked at, the allowance paid to Boston councillors was the fifth lowest in the country and easily the lowest in Lincolnshire," he said.
"In the national media the council was labelled as part of the 'dirty dozen' and "fat cats" although neither reported the council's position near the bottom of the national league table for both years."
The recommendation for Boston Borough Council's councillors' basic allowance increase came from the Independent Remuneration Panel.
Councillors were concerned about the increase recommended by the panel and so agreed to introduce it in stages over a three-year period.
Council leader Cllr Peter Bedford said: "The recommendation from the panel recognised that allowances for Boston borough councillors lagged so far behind all others in Lincolnshire."
The agreed increases for the council were £2,378 to £3,052 (a 28 per cent increase) for 2010/11; £3,727 (a 22 per cent increase) for 2012/13 and £4,400 (18 per cent) for 2013/14.
However, Matthew Sinclair, the chief executive of the Taxpayers Alliance, said: "With local authorities up and down the country having to reign in spending, and many public sector staff facing a pay freeze, those councillors who have awarded themselves an increase in their allowances in defiance of Government advice should hang their head in shame.
"They cannot retain the moral authority to make tough decisions on council spending if they believe their own allowances should be immune.
"Local people should be able to see how much cash their councillors are taking in their allowances and compare the cost with nearby councils. This transparency will allow them to decide for themselves whether they are getting good value for money."