Huge claims by Bracknell Forest Councillors cause concern for residents

Published: 31 May 2014 09:302 comments

READERS say councillors should be more prudent with their allowances and expenses.

This comes after we revealed last week that Bracknell Forest’s 42 borough councillors had been paid almost £590,000 between them in total for allowances and expenses claims for 2013-14

Among those calling for a reduction in allowances was Lis Casey, who lives in Binfield. She wrote on the News’s Facebook page: “I think it is not the modest expenses that are the issue here... it is the huge ones from our elected representatives at the top that I have issues with.”

Mary Gilchrist – also posting on www.facebook.com/bracknellnews – added: “No-one would complain about necessary expense claims but these are ridiculous and just appear greedy.”

Another News reader, using the username Forester on our website, www.bracknellnews.co.uk wrote: “Why should it take any more than a dozen competent councillors to oversee a place like Bracknell?

“Do we really need 42 of them – most of whom deliver very little beyond Tory lobby fodder and forming a queue to be the next mayor?”

However, defending councillors’ right to allowances, Patrick Cooper wrote on our Facebook page: “Coun-

cillors – many with modest means who would really lose financially (some meetings are held in the working day) – should claim and be paid, and all payments should be scrutinised by an independent body.

“All councillors should be aware of the financial circumstances of the majority of their constituents and make sensible claims – even those in executive positions.

“We want our councillors – who are

hardworking and civically aware – to be held in high regard by the electorate.”

Bracknell Forest councillors were paid £589,124.92 in a combination of allowances and expenses between April 1, 2013, and March 31 this year. This fell from £591,784.73 the previous year. All councillors are paid a basic allowance of £8,687.04 and are entitled to claim for mileage, travel and subsistence.

The total bill in allowances and expenses for Wokingham borough councillors for 2013-14 was £584,996.

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  • TomEdwards
    47 posts
    May 31, 20:28
    Report abuse

    A group of Bracknell Residents, who sit on the INDEPENDENT remuneration panel, sit and decide what Councillors should be paid, and what expenses are permissible. Councillor don't determine their own salary [and i know its technical an "allowance" but HMRC tax it as salary] the report is available online for anyone to read, and I guess that next time they review Allowances and expenses why not write in and tell them why you think pay and expenses is unfair for people that work?

    Some Councillors work extremely hard, some Councillors don't sit on as many committees but do a lot with outside bodies and residents groups.

    Are we collectively trying to say the shouldn't get ANY money? and if they should get some pay, how much? and are we saying they shouldn't be allowed to claim ANY expenses or should they be able to claim some - like mileage for attending meetings outside of the Borough? and who should decide what they get? Maybe sort of Independent panel?

    My ward Councillors work hard. I always see them out and about, they sit on so many community centre groups, many are also Governors of 1 or more schools, some are appointed to bodies outside the Borough - Some meet in Reading, in Newbury, in Heathrow, in Slough, in Guildford.

    Should they be paid? Yes. Frankly, who the heck would want to volunteer 10-20 hours of evenings, weekends, unpaid holidays etc etc for ZERO pay and expenses? Not me, and I'm fairly sure that the majority of people would agree they should get paid. The current system of allowances, set my an Independent Panel may not be popular, but how else do you decide?

    Recommend?   Yes 3     No 18

  • Forester
    36 posts
    Jun 1, 01:12
    Report abuse

    TomEdwards seems to put considerable faith in this independent panel. But is he right to do so?

    Look at the panel's terms of reference - its recommendations are "in most part advisory but the council must pay regard to them". So, no real pressure to cut this particular bit of public expenditure then.

    And Tom, tell us why payments to Bracknell's councillors should exceed those made to councillors in other Berkshire authorities in many cases?

    Recommend?   Yes 17     No 1