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Members Allowances Increase Is Fair And Reasonable

South Tyneside Council has agreed to an increase in Members' Allowances which is regarded as fair and reasonable and still below the average rates paid in other public sector bodies.

Today's ( May 14th) Annual Meeting of the Council agreed a new scheme of allowances which provides for a basic allowance of £5,000 paid to all councillors and a range of special responsibility payments.

The allowance for the Leader of the Council is £15,000, Deputy Leader £9,500 and Lead Members and Chairs of the four Scrutiny Committees will receive £5,400.

There are proportionate allowances for other chair and vice-chair posts ranging between £1,600 and £4,000.

The new scale of allowances for 2002-2003 is less than the amounts recommended by the Independent Remuneration Panel which proposed a basic of £6,000 with £22,000 for Leader, £14,000 for Deputy and £8,000 for Lead Members.

The independent panel recommendations would have cost £598,000 but today the Council agreed to the reduced scale of allowances totalling £461,000 in a full year.

Councillor Paul Waggott, Leader of the Council, said today: "Allowances paid to South Tyneside Councillors have been low historically. Although the new allowances represent a sizeable increase they are still low compared to neighbouring authorities and rates payable elsewhere in the public sector."

"The new allowances are fair and reasonable and it takes South Tyneside closer towards paying what an independent panel and external evidence suggest is a fair rate for the work of a councillor."

Councillor Waggott added that the Council has taken a sensible approach which keeps the budget for Members' Allowances within the current spending limits.

Elsewhere in Tyne and Wear the basic allowances for Councillors range between £5,000 and £6,785 before this year's increases. Newcastle has agreed a new basic allowance of £7,210.

The Council also agreed that the recommendations of the independent panel be accepted and implemented in full in future years when the financial position of the Council allows.

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