Swaffham town councillor calls for members’ allowance system

The Buttercross in Swaffham. ENGANL00120140402155632
The Buttercross in Swaffham. ENGANL00120140402155632

A Swaffham town councillor has called for the introduction of a members’ allowance system, which she says would reflect the work they do for the town.

Draft proposals are set to be developed after the idea was put forward by Sheila Lister at the authority’s meeting on Wednesday.

Mrs Lister said she and her colleagues should be given an annual £100 allowance to cover the costs they incur through council work.

She said: “Sometimes I have to return three or four calls and ring the office to get the answers to questions. It’s getting to be a lot of money. I think we should receive £100 a year.”

She suggested any members who declined the payments could give the cash to local good causes instead.

She added: “It’s not for me. It’s for all uf us. We all do work for nothing. It’s getting expensive.

“Some councillors may think, ‘I deserve that. I work for it.’”

And former mayor Shirley Matthews noted Mrs Lister’s proposal equated to less than £2 for each of the 13 town councillors each week.

Town clerk Richard Bishop presented papers showing the legal requirements related to the establishment of an allowance programme, as well as an example of how another town council currently pays allowances to its members.

But he also reminded councillors that they are entitled to recoup their costs through expenses.

He said: “All I would say to you is if you have an itemised phone bill, put in a claim and that can be paid. If you travel to an event on behalf of the town council, put in a claim for the mileage. You can do that already. We need to have a clear policy.”

Members voted for a draft policy to be drawn up and debated at a subsequent meeting.

Although district and county councillors do receive allowances, it is thought to be rare for town or parish representatives to claim them.

Officials of the town councils in Downham, Fakenham and Hunstanton all confirmed they do not pay allowances to their members.

However, there is no legal restriction that prevents a town or parish council from making such payments to their members if they wish to do so.

n What do you think? Do town and parish councillors deserve allowances? Email letters@lynnnews.co.uk