Leader of Norfolk County Council defends allowances increase and says Labour opponent ‘incited hate’
PUBLISHED: 15:06 08 January 2018 | UPDATED: 10:57 09 January 2018
The leader of Norfolk County Council has said councillors did the right thing in sticking with a 10.5pc increase in their allowances.
And Cliff Jordan accused his political opponent Steve Morphew of inciting hate in the run-up to yesterday’s extraordinary meeting where councillors voted for a second time over allowances.
Before Christmas, county councillors voted, by 39 votes to 26 to increase their basic allowance from £9,401 to £10,500 a year.
But Labour and the Liberal Democrats tabled a motion that the Conservative-led council should reverse the decision.
However, the council voted, by 36 votes to 28, to reject that and stick with the increase. It is backdated to May and will cost £140,000 from an underspend in the allowances budget.
Cliff Jordan, Conservative leader of the council, defended the increase, even though it comes as the council consults over potential cuts: “Norfolk county council councillors are one of the worst paid, and yet the public expect first class service
“They expect us when they want us to go see them. If you don’t pay the right amount it can’t happen, so the public are the ones who would lose overall.”
An independent panel recommended basic allowances should not change, bar any percentage increase local authority staff get. The panel had said a “fundamental review” was needed, but not until next year.
But Mr Jordan said the panel had got it wrong and added: “Generally speaking the public have been supportive. One or two have been horrid, absolutely horrid and those people ought to be ashamed of themselves
“Whether Labour like it or not and whether Steve Morphew [Labour group leader] and he really doesn’t like it, he incited hate.”
But Mr Morphew, who said the council had made the wrong decision and it would now be “an albatross around the necks” of councillors, hit back at Mr Jordan’s claim.
He said: “For a leader of the council to make an unsubstantiated allegation that the leader of the opposition has incited hatred without providing any evidence, and it’s an absolutely baseless allegation, is just about the most disgraceful thing I’ve ever heard.
“Naturally enough I am taking advice on where we take it from here.”