In May we brought you the news that the Conservatives who control Cambridgeshire County Council were starting to run it like a "one-party-state" with all Committees having Tory Chairs and Vice Chairs; no decisions can be reviewed without the support of a Committee on which the Conservatives have a majority; in Full Council no amendments to Tory plans can be made without prior notice; no councillors can put oral questions; officers will brief Tory Spokespersons separately from Lead Members from the other groups. Opposition groups will no longer have recognised ‘Spokespersons’
At the second Council meeting, Conservatives have now voted to increase allowances paid to councillors (and rejected the recommendations of an Independent Remuneration Panel) as follows:
- Council Leader (Con.) from £21,636 to £31,345
- Deputy Leader (Con.) from £14,682 to £20,627
- Committee chairs (all Con.) from £12,363 to £18, 372
- Committee Vice-chairs (all Con.) from £6,182 to £7,927
In total, 24 of the 36 Conservative councillors have Special Responsibility Allowances amounting to £280,000 (90.7% of the total). The remaining 9.3% is for the 25 Councillors from other parties.
This concentration of power and finance does not feel quite right. The council needs to represent all the people of Cambridgeshire and should do this by utilising the strengths of all councillors; ensuring that their input is fully considered and the work that they do to scrutinise and improve policy is appropriately funded.