'Why I decided not to take my allowance rise' by Wiltshire Council leader Jane Scott (From Swindon Advertiser)
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'Why I decided not to take my allowance rise' by Wiltshire Council leader Jane Scott
Wiltshire Council leader Jane Scott said she decided to forgo any increase in allowances during the Christmas break as a campaign against the rise had become so personal.
A Freedom of Information request by the Gazette & Herald revealed her surprise decision.
She said: “It had all become very personal to me and I thought the only way to stop the campaign was to decide not to take it.
“All the talk about the allowances was having a detrimental affect on the work of the council and that is my main priority. All anyone wanted to talk about was allowances and it was overshadowing all the positive work that is being done.”
She said she had received the extra payments up until December but she would be paying them back.
Coun Scott would have been eligible to receive total allowances of more than £52,227 instead of the £37,335 she received before the council vote to increase allowances was made in November.
But the FOI request confirmed Council Scott and Coun Stewart Dobson from Marlborough had refused the increase and Coun Laura Mayes from Devizes had refused half of her increase in allowance.
Coun Scott would have been entitled to £12,289 for being a councillor, £30,772 for being council leader and £9,216 for being chairman of the health and well being board.
The increase had been backdated to last year’s May elections.
Before the vote Coun Scott received £25,168 for being council leader and £12,167 for being a councillor. The basic councillor’s allowance went up by one per cent – a rise of £122 while those councillors who are members of the cabinet saw allowances increase by at least 22 per cent from £15,101 to £18,433 a year.
Coun Scott said she had also turned down the £9,216 for being the chairman of the health and well being board but she was pleased that the responsibilities that went with this role had been recognised with the allowance.
She said: I will only take the same allowance as I had before the decision was taken on the increase. I will not take the allowance for the health and wellbeing board. I am happy to do this job for free as I have done for the past two years but it is a big job and if someone else takes it on in the future they should receive a proper allowance for doing it.”
She also said that allowances were a personal decision for each councillor and just because she had decided not to take the rise she did not expect others to follow suit.
She said she did not think she would change her mind in the future about taking the rise.
She said she had chosen not to make her decision public as she did not want to make it political and was only speaking now as the FOI had revealed the information.
Only last week Coun Scott defended her decision to take the rise in allowances after she was criticised by Eric Pickles during a visit to Wiltshire. She said at the time: “I will be taking the allowance, as will other councillors.”
A motion calling for the allowance increase to be overturned will be debated at a full council meeting at County Hall, Trowbridge at 10.30am on Tuesday.
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