A plan to give seven Sefton Labour councillors pay rises of between 25% and 67% has provoked fury.  One long-standing Southport Lib Dem councillor, Simon Shaw, has condemned the proposal as “completely unacceptable”.

Sefton Council’s “Independent Remuneration Panel” proposed the massive increases at its meeting held on 6th June.  This was the first meeting of the Panel since Labour took overall control of Sefton Council in the May local elections.

Many had expected the Panel to propose a cut in the level of additional Special Responsibility Allowances (SRAs) which are paid to 16 of the more senior councillors.  In fact, they did exactly the opposite.

The Panel has recommended that the Chairs of Sefton Council’s four Overview and Scrutiny Committees and of the Audit Committee should each receive a 67% pay rise taking their total pay from £12,780 to £21,300.  In addition, they propose that the Chairs of the Planning and Licensing Committees should be awarded a 25% pay rise – up from £17,040 to £21,300.

Last month, Labour controversially seized all the Overview & Scrutiny Chairmanships following their gains in the local elections.  In other councils these roles are normally shared between the political parties, on the basis that these committees exist to scrutinise the actions of the Cabinet Members – who are now all Labour in the case of Sefton Council.

So, all seven councillors proposed to receive the massive pay rises are Labour councillors.

Birkdale’s Lib Dem Councillor Shaw says: “I regard these massive pay rises as completely unacceptable.  In this year’s budget, Lib Dems proposed an average cut of 10% in the level of SRAs – extra allowances paid to senior councillors – but we were outvoted by the other two parties.  At a time of continuing reductions in Sefton’s spending on vital services, such a cut in councillors’ pay seemed to us to be the right thing to do, and we assumed that the Independent Remuneration Panel would be sympathetic to that viewpoint.”

“I simply cannot understand how the Panel have gone in exactly the opposite direction.  I recognise that it is one of those classic thankless tasks that they face, but they really need to be asked to think again.”

“Such massive increases in pay to these seven Labour Chairs, taking them to over £21,000 per annum, means that that they would be paid more for performing a part-time, public service role, than the majority of local people earn through paid employment.  When I have told people what is being planned, they are understandably furious.”

The overwhelming majority of Sefton councillors – 50 out of 66 – receive only the Basic Allowance, which the Pay Panel has recommended to remain frozen at £8,520 per annum following an earlier cut of 5%.  Councillors have to meet the cost of travel and other expenses from within this Basic Allowance.

Full details of the decision of the “Independent Remuneration Panel” meeting of 6 June are to be found (see Minute 7) at: