A former councillor is calling for significant changes to the allowances paid to members of Brighton and Hove City Council.
Mark Barnard, who represented Hangleton and Knoll ward from 1999 to 2003, has submitted his proposals to the council’s Independent Remuneration Panel, chaired by Ken Childerhouse.
Mr Barnard said that the public should be consulted about the current system of allowances and asked what changes, if any, should be made.
He said that this was important because the allowances were paid from taxes paid by the public.
And, he said, the consultation responses should be published.
His own reforms would involve fixing allowances at the same level as the state pension.
Mr Barnard said: “It is assumed that our senior citizens can live on the state pension and since the councillor allowances are only to cover loss of earnings it seems to me the state pension is a good benchmark.
“Using such a benchmark would seem to me to not only be fair but morally right.”
He said that any future increases should be at the same rate as pensions.
He also said: “When councillors start to draw the state pension, councillor allowances should cease in the same way as attendance allowances and other benefits cease when the council taxpayer reaches retirement age and draws the state pension.
“Again this proposal is based on fairness. There should be one rule for all, not one rule for the elected few and another for the taxpayers who pay the costs.
“The councillor allowances are intended to cover loss.
“When the state pension is being drawn it cannot be morally right to continue to pay councillor allowances.
“If we overlook the principle used, for example, with carers we would be establishing one rule for the (unelected) council taxpayer and another for the elected elite.
“This new principle for paying allowances would also have the effect that people who wanted to truly serve residents would still stand for election.
“If it was the case that money was the attraction, they would not stand.
“The Brighton and Hove Older People’s Council are paid no allowances and are very effective – as are parish councillors.
“A thorough review of councillors’ allowances that take into account the above principles could lead to elected members being committed to their locality and service.
“I venture to suggest that this would have the added advantage of making the council chamber much more committed to constructive debate and would have the additional benefit of enhancing the quality of community life.
“There are a range of examples where individuals are dedicated to serving their community and are indeed accountable for their actions who receive no financial reward – school governors, magistrates, parish councillors to name but a few.
“It is time that a readjustment is made and I welcome the work that the review panel will do in this respect.
“We need to get back to the true values of representation – that is, a role to serve the public not a paid job.”
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