Members of a party which has championed austerity for almost a decade. Members of party which has implemented draconian cuts in our schools, hospitals, social care services and town halls; which has slashed benefits for the poor and vulnerable and imposed 1 percent wage rises for nurses, teachers, ambulance crews etc; these shameless carpetbaggers were the first in line to get their greedy snouts into the trough by awarding themselves a massive 15% increase in their councillor allowances.
In an outrageous example of “do as I say not as I do” double standards these so-called politicians voted to increase their allowances by an extra £247,202 when compared with the previous financial year 2016/17. Adding in expenses, subsistence claims and pension contributions for some of the 81 councillors means that Kent County Council will spend somewhere close to £2.5 million paying its councillors in the forthcoming year. That’s the equivalent of £1.66 for every man, woman and child living in the KCC area.
According to research conducted by the Tax Payers Alliance, KCC councillors were already amongst the top 5 groups of best paid councillors in England and Wales so why did they want even more? With a pay rise of over a quarter of a million pounds, they must now surely be the wealthiest group of councillors in the country! Hardly an accolade to be proud of when many in the county are struggling hard to get by.
The question must be asked are these councillors worth it, or are they overpaid? And what sort of message does their greedy grasping behaviour send out to the public? Especially in an area like Thanet with the highest rates of unemployment, child poverty, low pay and poor housing in south east England. The antics of these councillors, including Thanet KCC councillors Ken Gregory and Emma Dawson who both spoke enthusiastically in favour of the increase at last week’s County Council meeting, reminds me of the 2010 MPs expenses scandal which exposed the self-serving attitude of many of our politicians and which brought politics into massive disrepute. I fear that those KCC Tory councillors who voted to give themselves a pay rise last week will also bring the County Council into massive disrepute, not that it wasn’t already regarded as unfit for purpose and out of touch by many people, myself included.
On a more positive note I must congratulate the KCC Labour Councillors who opposed the increase, especially councillor Tan Dhesi from Gravesend who gave a great speech and Green Councillor Martyn Whybrow who also opposed the increase. It’s a shame the LibDems didn’t oppose the rise. But they wanted their own “modest rise” of 3.3%
Here's my version of the allowances which will be paid to KCC councillors, including the 15% increase, in 2017/18. This does not include payments for some councillors who are members of the KCC pension scheme. The travel and subsistence is based on 2016/17 figures. Nice work if you can get it.