West Norfolk Council staff pay award branded ‘derisory’ amid eight per cent allowance hike plan

GV of  the Borough Council of King's Lynn & West Norfolk, King's Court Hq, Chapel Street King's Lynn ANL-160704-112750009
GV of the Borough Council of King's Lynn & West Norfolk, King's Court Hq, Chapel Street King's Lynn ANL-160704-112750009
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Plans to offer West Norfolk Council staff a one per cent pay rise while members’ allowances go up by eight per cent have been slammed as “derisory” by a councillor.

Gary McGuinness has urged a rethink, insisting the payments made to members should not rise faster than workers’ wages.

But the move was backed by the council’s cabinet on Tuesday, after the head of the panel responsible for proposing allowance rates defended the recommendation.

Under the plans, which will now go to the full council later this month, basic members’ allowances would rise from the current £5,140 per year to £5,581, around 8.5 per cent.

But, before the meeting, Mr McGuinness said he agreed with most staff’s responses.

He said: “A one per cent pay award for staff would seem derisory if councillors are intent on awarding themselves an eight per cent pay rise.”

A report setting out staff views, which was published in the agenda papers, also sets out criticism by union leaders.

It said: “Unison believes this to be inappropriate and sets councillors apart from staff and their own constituents.”

But council leader Nick Daubney, chairing his last cabinet meeting before stepping down, described feedback from the unions as “realistic.”

Environment portfolio holder Brian Long added: “Union reps indicated they appreciate we do try our best and they would like more money. But the meeting was very productive and the important thing was the review going forward.”

The independent panel which makes recommendations to the council on allowances has said future increases should be in line with staff pay.

And its chairman, Mike Press, said allowances would only have risen by 1.6 per cent overall in the past decade if the current proposal is passed.

But Mr McGuinness said only current economic conditions should be considered when setting the rates.

He said: “We do not seek to take account of inflation over the past few years when one per cent or nil pay awards have been made for staff.”

But, while the recommendation on basic allowances was accepted, proposals for a 21.5 per cent hike in the amount given to the chairman of the planning committee were rejected.

Although Mr Press stressed the recommendation was based on evidence of the role’s workload, Tory backbencher Kathy Mellish claimed it amounted to “performance-related pay.”

She said: “It’s quite out of line and can’t be justified.”

Allowances given to the mayor and deputy mayor are set to be frozen.