New panel will consider county councillors' allowances

A new panel to review members’ allowances at Cambridgeshire County Council has been appointed after a 25 per cent pay rise was scrapped.

The five-strong team will consult the public on how much they think elected representatives should be paid and will also take councillors’ views into account.

They were picked following an application and interview process, which was held after a 25 per cent increase in allowances was scrapped last year.

It was discovered that the selection rules had not been followed properly when the last independent remuneration panel was formed.

The council’s standards committee had not been consulted – but it has given its blessing to the latest exercise.

The panel will be chaired by David Sales, who lives in Cambourne and is director of Cambridge-based leadership development consultancy First Ascent.

He is chairman of the Institute of Directors in Cambridgeshire and was previously a director at BT.

The vice-chairman will be Prof Helen Valentine, a Cambridge resident and deputy vice-chancellor at Anglia Ruskin University, where she is responsible for human resources and student welfare.

They are joined by Dr Sam Weller, who lives in Cambridge and was formerly Kodak’s European research director and now serves as chairman of the Greater Cambridge International Relations Forum and as a trustee of the Cambridgeshire Community Foundation.

Also on the panel are Yolanda Warwick, a brand management and communications expert from Cambridge, and Robert Smith, a former NHS director from Wisbech.

The panel has the power to recommend an increase, a freeze, or a cut, and £100,000 has been set aside in the authority’s budget in case a rise is eventually approved.

Recommendations would go before a full meeting of the council.

Currently members receive a £7,610 basic payment plus extra cash for any special responsibilities, and the scrapped package would have increased the minimum deal to £9,500, with leader Cllr Nick Clarke on £38,000.

Quentin Baker, the council’s director of legal services, said: “The council has a legal duty to regularly review the allowances system.

“The review will be carried out by an independent panel and they want to hear the views of our communities and residents.

“Once the panel’s report has been published, it will be reviewed by full council.

“There are a number of ways for people to have their say from filling our online survey, to writing to us or attending a public meeting on February 27 at the Anglia Ruskin University in Cambridge.”

Residents can have their say in a consultation which runs from today to February 27, by filling in an online survey at www.cambridgeshire.gov.uk or by contacting Jim Milne at Box No Res 1109, Shire Hall, Cambridge, CB3 0AP or by emailing him at jim.milne@cambridgeshire.gov.uk.

There will be a public meeting at Anglia Ruskin University in East Road, Cambridge, at 6.30pm on February 27.

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