Row breaks out over expenses rise plan at West Norfolk Council

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West Norfolk Council chiefs have been accused of wasting public money after officials proposed a 14 per cent rise in members’ allowances and expenses next year.

Figures contained in the council’s financial plan show more than £591,000 has been spent on allowances and expenses during the current financial year.

However, the authority proposes to increase that to almost £682,000 next year, an increase of more than 14 per cent.

Further, smaller increases are projected for the following two years up to a total of more than £686,000 in 2017-18.

But the move has angered members of the newly-formed UKIP group, the third largest in the council chamber, who say they will oppose the proposals when they are presented to the full council next week.

Leader Paul Foster said: “The allowances and expense have remained fairly constant for several years. With the cost of fuel coming down should not councillors’ expenses be coming down?”

Council leader Nick Daubney said the increase was being proposed to fund a major IT upgrade.

He said: “We’re trying to move towards more electronic communication so we put in quite a large figure for electronic devices. It’s still to be voted on.”

Mr Daubney criticised UKIP members, who he said had failed to question the issue when the plan was put before the council’s relevant committees last month.

He also said he was “amazed” that the budget had not been called in for review by the council’s cabinet scrutiny committee, which is due to meet this Thursday.

But Mr Foster said he didn’t understand why new IT equipment was needed.

He said: “It’s all a waste of money and they haven’t thought it through.”

The council will debate the financial plan at a meeting in the town hall next Thursday, February 27.