By Andrew Topping, Local Democracy Reporter
Nottinghamshire county councillors will receive a four per cent pay increase following an independent review of their allowances.
However, the increase is lower than it could have been as the authority prepares to give non-elected staff employees a raise of about seven per cent.
Each of the 66 elected councillors had received a standard annual allowance of £15,277.76 and, under the changes, will now receive £15,894.98. This is a rise of £617.22.
But councillors with positions of extra authority also receive a ‘special responsibility allowance’ on top of the standard sum.
This includes the leader, cabinet members and opposition leaders.
Under the changes, council leader Councillor Ben Bradley MP (Con) will see his special responsibility allowance as leader rise from £35,827.19 to £37,274.61.
This is an increase of £1,447.42 and, in total, he takes home £53,169.59 for his work at County Hall.
Cabinet members’ special responsibility allowances will also rise from £23,645.95 to £24,601.25 – an increase of £955.30.
This impacts senior Conservative councillors such as Richard Jackson, Neil Clarke and Keith Girling, who will now receive £40,496.23 in total.
There are also increases for opposition leaders and a reshaping of funding for the smaller groups after a balance shift caused by a recent by-election.
But speaking to the Local Democracy Reporting Service after the move was approved, Cllr Bradley said the changes are lower than they could have been.
National bodies have agreed to a £1,925 pay award for staff members – equating to slightly more than seven per cent on average.
He says councils regularly pass the same increase onto councillors but a decision was taken to reduce the raise for elected members.
He said: “Council staff are getting about a 7.2 per cent pay rise and we, strictly speaking, should implement that rise for councillors as well.
“But we’ve chosen to reduce that to four per cent recognising the challenging times from that perspective.
“We’ve actually chosen to reduce the implementation specifically for councillors whilst still offering a full pay rise for staff.
“Any staff pay decisions are part of a national agreement and we’ve actively agreed to reduce the suggested pay rise for councillors.”
The decision came as part of a wider review by the Independent Remuneration Panel – the body that recommends councillors’ pay.
The authority approved the changes during the full council meeting on Thursday (November 24).
The same meeting saw the approval of separate changes to the Independent Alliance and Labour’s special responsibility allowances.
These reflected the Independents’ rise in councillor numbers after Cllr Kane Oliver (Ind) won the Eastwood by-election by 41 votes on November 3.
The group is now level with Labour on 15 seats and are both now classed as the joint opposition groups to the ruling Conservatives.
Cllr Jason Zadrozny (Ash Ind), Independent Alliance leader, will now receive £18,450.93 as his special responsibility allowance as joint opposition leader.
He was initially due to see his allowance increase by £5,911.49 to £17,734.46 due to the balance shake-up.
But the raise is now even higher due to the wider four per cent rise.
In total, he now receives £34,345.91 for his work at County Hall.
Labour leader Cllr Kate Foale will now receive the same £18,450.93 special allowance, having previously received £23,645.95 as main opposition leader.
But the allocation for opposition groups is now shared equally between the two parties, having previously balanced in favour of Labour.
She receives the same sum overall as Cllr Zadrozny when also factoring in standard councillor allowances.
Speaking in Thursday’s meeting, Cllr Zadrozny said: “I’d like to put on record my thanks to the democratic services team.
“Between the by-election and this meeting, they’ve done an awful lot of work to get the scheme up to date for a position that wasn’t entirely anticipated.
“I would like to also take this opportunity to thank Cllr Foale.
“She and I have had constructive conversations and I thank her for the grown-up way we’ve dealt with each other.”