Councillors support pay cut for top bosses

A COUNCILLOR’S call for senior officers to take a pay cut to save jobs on the authority has won the backing of his colleagues.

Stuart St Claire-Haslam, put a motion to last night’s meeting of Thurrock Council asking chief executive Graham Farrant and his senior colleagues to take a voluntary pay cut of at least five per cent.

He called on the officers to “follow the lead of all elected members of Thurrock Council as community leaders to share the burden of the current harsh fiscal environment.”

Earlier this year councillors agreed to cut their allowances by five per cent and also cut payments for items including broadband at home.

Proposing his motion, Cllr St Clair-Haslam said: “We are in extraordinary times and each and every one of us in this Council is responsible for the financial situation we are in. Taking this cut would show Mr Farrant and all senior staff recognise the importance of taking responsibility and ownership of this financial crisis.

“Staff within the Council that have been served with notice of possible redundancy face an uncertain future. A five per cent cut in some of the senior salaries could save some of their jobs.”

His motion was seconded by Cllr Emma Colgate, who earlier in the evening had issued a press statement that she was quitting the ranks of the BNP and would represent her Tilbury ward as an independent councillor until next year’s election.

And it won support from a number of councillors, who spoke for the motion, including Conservative opposition leader Garry Hague who echoed Cllr St Clair-Haslam’s thoughts by saying: “The moral authority it will give is tremendous. While it is a sensitive matter, the principle is a sound one.”

Council leader Cllr John Kent also gave his support and indicated it would get serious consideration from officers by saying: “I don’t think it is a sensitive issue, our officers are robust enough to hear our views and we are simply asking the question.

“My concern would be that asking the question might be seen as a vote of no confidence in our officers, which would be a mistake.”

Other councillors contributed to the debate, raising the issue of blame for the financial crisis and engaging in political rhetoric, but Cllr St Clair-Haslam summed up by saying:” “We can share cheap shots at each other but we are trying to limit the devastation to the lives of people and their families – to try and limit the number of redundancies.”

Councillors voted for the motion, though there is no formal process for the officers to respond directly.

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