To consider the recommendations of the Independent Remuneration Panel.
The Council considered a report by the Independent Remuneration Panel (IRP) on the Dorset Council Scheme of Members' Allowances.
The Leader reminded members that the original scheme had been approved by the Shadow Council in February 2019 and was to be reviewed after a year. Since then the outcomes of a governance review had been agreed by Council on 18 February 2020 and these arrangements were taken into account within the report. The costs of the increases in allowances were a reduction when compared to the costs of the previous councils' allowances schemes. The IRP were satisfied that the role of lead members involved additional work and responsibility similar to those of a chairman. The additional capacity they would provide would help bring about the transformation necessary to maintain a balanced budget. The new scheme would also enable people of all ages and social backgrounds to be involved in local democracy. He thanked the IRP for their evidence-based report.
It was proposed by Cllr S Flower and seconded by Cllr P Wharf that recommendation (i) be taken separately and recommendations 1(ii) to (vi) en bloc. The Leader of the Council requested that both items be a recorded vote. This was supported by Cllr P Wharf, Cllr N Lacey-Clarke and Cllr N Ireland.
Cllr N Ireland proposed the following amendment
“That members reject the IRP recommended increase to the basic allowance”. This was seconded by Cllr N Lacey-Clarke.
In the debate that followed some members were of the view that members' allowances should not be increased because of the financial difficulties and hardship faced by residents and the Council arising from the Covid-19 pandemic and that the increase was more than staff salary increases. Other members suggested that members could choose not to accept the additional allowance and give it to charity and highlighted the need to be able to attract a more diverse range of members.
On being put to the vote the amendment was carried.
Those voting in favour of the amendment:-
Cllrs J Andrews, P Batstone, P Barrow, R Biggs, D Bolwell, A Brenton, C Brooks, P Brown, R Bryan, G Carr-Jones, K Clayton, S Cocking, T Cook, R Cook, S Christopher, M Dyer, T Ferrari, S Flower, L Fry, D Gray, S Gibson, P Harrison, J Haynes, M Hall, B Heatley, R Holloway, R Hope, N Ireland, S Jespersen, C Jones, S Jones, A Kerby, R Knox, N Lacey-Clarke, H Legg, R Legg, C Lugg, D Morgan, L Miller, L O’Leary, J Orrell, E Parker, M Parkes, B Quayle, M Rennie, M Roberts, M Roe, D Shortell , A Starr, G Suttle, J Somper, C Sutton, R Tarr, D Taylor, G Taylor, D Tooke, W Trite, D Turner, P Wharf, K Wheller, S Williams,
Those voting against the amendment:
Cllrs R Adkins, M Barron, S Bartlett, T Coombs, B Goringe, R Hughes, P Kimber, A Parry, M Penfold, B Ridout, D Walsh and J Worth
Cllr B Pipe and V Pothecary
Cllr C Sutton proposed that recommendations (ii) and (iii) should be deleted and this was seconded by Cllr K Clayton. However the Monitoring Officer advised that as set out in Rule 17.6, an amendment was not valid if it was to negate the motion. He further advised that if members opposed recommendations (ii) and (iii) they should simply vote against them rather than seek an amendment.
During the debate a number of differing views were expressed. These included; that providing a special responsibility allowance (SRA) for this role was inconsistent with the above decision; that there were 76 other councillors who could provide support and who had experience and abilities which could be used at no cost; that the money would be better spend on supporting children and young families; and that this was insensitive when residents had been made redundant, were on furlough and facing unemployment and financial hardship.
Those in support of the SRA stated: it would enable younger people to take part in democracy; it would mean that members were paid and recognised for the work to be undertaken; it would compensate for any loss of income; members did not have to accept an SRA; the new roles would play a part in creating new ideas, strategies and policies and strengthen the member-led Council; and it would provide the means for younger members to be able to play a greater role in supporting Portfolio Holders.
Note: the Chairman lost internet connection at this point and the Vice-Chairman took the Chair for the remainder of the item.
Following the debate the Vice-Chairman (in the Chair) asked that the vote in respect of recommendation (ii) and (iii) be put.
Those voting in favour of Recommendations (ii) and (iii)
Cllrs R Adkins, J Andrews, P Batstone, R Biggs, C Brooks, P Brown, R Bryan, G Carr-Jones, R Cook, T Coombs, J Dunseith, M Dyer, T Ferrari, S Flower, L Fry, S Gibson, B Goringe, P Harrison, J Haynes, S Jespersen, C Jones, A Kerby, N Lacey-Clarke, C Lugg, R Knox, L Miller, L O'Leary, E Parker, M Parkes, A Parry, M Penfold, B Pipe, V Pothecary, B Quayle, B Ridout, M Roberts, D Shortell, J Somper, G Suttle, W Trite, D Turner, D Walsh, P Wharf, K Wheller.
Those voting against Recommendations (ii) and (iii)
Cllrs M Barron, P Barrow, D Bolwell, A Brenton, K Clayton, S Cocking, T Cook, D Gray, B Heatley, R Holloway, R Hope, N Ireland, S Jones, P Kimber, H Legg, R Legg, D Morgan, J Orrell, M Rennie, M Roe, A Starr, C Sutton, D Taylor, G Taylor, R Tarr, D Tooke, S Williams, J Worth.
Cllrs S Bartlett, S Christopher, M Hall.
Cllr S Flower proposed and Cllr P Wharf seconded that recommendations (iv), (v) and (vi) be taken en bloc.
On being put to the vote Recommendations (iv), (v) and (vi) were approved.
(i) That members reject the IRP recommended increase to the basic allowance;
(ii) That a new special responsibility allowance be awarded for Lead Members
(iii) That the special responsibility allowance for Lead Members be set at £10,000 per annum;
(iv) That special responsibility allowances be awarded to the chairs of the Scrutiny Committees of £10,000 per annum;
(v) That special responsibility allowances be awarded to the chairs of the Overview Committees of £10,000 per annum; and
(vi) That the special responsibility allowance for school appeal members be discontinued.
Reason for Decisions
To enable Full Council to consider recommendations on the scheme of allowances following a review undertaken by the Independent Remuneration Panel.