Political fight as council shifts money away from opposition party

Redbridge Town Hall

Changes to members allowances will see a shift in money away from the opposition party which has led to a political fight - Credit: Archant

A political fight has ensued over changes to Redbridge Council's allowance policy with both sides accusing the other of playing party politics.

At tonight's council meeting there will be a vote on changes to the councillors allowance scheme after it was agreed that a small increase would be scrapped

As a result of the changes, which include removing a £6,650 allowance for the deputy leader of the opposition and fees for five committee spokespeople the council says it will be saving £15,250.

The Conservative Group has hit out at the changes which include a new allowance of £5,650 for the chair of the general purposes committee and two special project leads.

The special project leads (paid £2,850 each) could be chosen from either party, but so far no one has been earmarked for this.

Conservative Group leader Cllr Linda Huggett said: "If Labour is really telling us the council is swimming in cash, then we want to see more money invested in schools and roads, not lining the pockets of Labour councillors.  The Labour administration serves itself, not the people of Redbridge."

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Council leader Jas Athwal responded: "This is the latest in a long history of utterly shameless behaviour from the Conservative Group, claiming to want a pay cut and yet voting against a pay cut for one of their own in the same breath."

Deputy leader Kam Rai said the £15,250 cut from allowances would allow that money to be invested in public services.

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He said: “The policy, based on recommendations from an independent panel, removes allowances from five committee spokespersons (posts held by Labour and Conservative councillors) and from the post of deputy leader of the opposition. It is obvious the Conservative Group are voting against the policy to keep the money for their own deputy leader and spokesperson."

Deputy leader of the opposition Cllr Howard Berlin said: "Redbridge Conservative Group think it only correct to cut their allowances at this time of Covid but are extremely disappointed that the Redbridge Labour Group have not joined them in taking an allowance cut. This is wrong and we will oppose it.”

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