AN Extraordinary Meeting of Leigh Town Council was called by the Chairman of the Council after three Motions were submitted to him from Councillors. The Meeting took place at Leigh Community Centre on July 25.
The meeting was controversial for a number of reasons, but particularly because one of the Motions put forward, related to the possibility of increasing Councillor Allowances.
Currently Leigh Town councillors are paid an allowance of £85 per year, which comes from the precept paid by Leigh residents in their Council Tax.
The proposal put forward by Coun Mark Flewitt sought to increase that amount to £500 per year. The allowance is intended to cover the costs associated with serving on the council.
Traditionally Leigh Town Councillors have not claimed the £85, but Coun Flewitt pointed out that £85.00 per year would equate to around £1.63 per week, which, he said, would not even cover the cost of a bus ticket to a council meeting.
This he felt might result in some less well off Leigh residents being excluded from serving as councillors. He added: “So, is Leigh Town Council just for those who can afford to be on it?”
At the meeting, however, Coun Flewitt’s motion was struck from the agenda as any review of Town councillor’s expenses must be carried out by Southend City Council.
Town Clerk Helen Symmons told the meeting: “The wording of the motion of item 1 is actually, factually incorrect, the council has to apply to Southend City Council to set up a remuneration panel and it is them that decide the allowance amount.”
After the meeting Chairman Bernard Arscott said: “At present the motion has been withdrawn from the council and it’s not something we’re considering re-submitting in the short term, but in the long term, obviously the discussion about councillors expenses rather than allowances, may well come back.
“After all, it’s important whether those people who are less affluent and not from such wealthy backgrounds can afford to be councillors in Leigh.
“Obviously, whether people take their allowance or not is a matter of personal decision.”
Two other Motions were considered and voted through at the meeting. Motion two proposed having an independent review of all staff. Motion three proposed reviewing Standing Orders (the Council’s rules) and all Council policy documents.
The next full Council meeting will take place on July 25 at Leigh Community Centre and is open to the public.
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