Tory minister Eric Pickles launched a fierce attack on Tyneside Labour councillors for “lining their pockets” as they pass £40m of cuts –while accepting a 24% hike in allowances.
The Communities Secretary said the move by North Tyneside Council members “beggars belief” and insisted the authority’s Conservatives will not be claiming the allowance boost – worth almost £10,000.
Bob Neill, vice-chairman of the Conservative Party, also waded into the row, branding North Tyneside Labour MP Mary Glindon a hypocrite.
He lashed out at the MP for slamming Government cuts in Parliament while her husband – North Tyneside Labour councillor Ray Glindon – agreed the hefty rise last year, which will come into effect on April 1.
Labour, however, was quick to hit back at the extraordinary outburst by accusing the two Tories of “political game-playing”.
A spokesman for Ed Miliband’s party said Coalition cuts disproportionately hitting North East councils left members with no choice but to slash services.
Eric Pickles said:
“At a time when rank and file council workers have faced pay freezes and pay restraint, it beggars belief that the Labour council is lining the pockets of its Labour councillors with a 24% hike in councillor allowances.
“To add insult to injury, the council is hiking stealth taxes on local residents to pay for it. I commend local Conservatives for their robust opposition, standing up for hard-working people of North Tyneside.”
Last week, the authority, led by Mayor Norma Redfearn, voted to cut £40m of cuts, which could see 350 council jobs disappear in the coming months. The allowance rise – worth up to £9,759 – comes into effect on April 1.
The council defended the allowance hike by saying the move was recommended by an independent body.
Bob Neill said:
“Mary Glindon is behaving completely hypocritically. She’s very quick to attack Government cuts – but stays mute when her husband and his Labour council chums hike their salaries while proposing hundreds of job cuts.
“The truth is, it’s Labour’s record that needs to be held to account. They left Britain’s economy in a mess, with record peacetime deficit and increased unemployment.
“Meanwhile the Conservatives, working through their long-term economic plan, have seen 1,000 jobs created every day since they came to office.
“The choice in May is clear: between a competent Conservative Government and the chaos of Labour and the rest.”
A spokesman for North Tyneside Labour Group said:
“As with all local authorities, allowances for members are recommended by an external independent remuneration panel.
“North Tyneside Council had some of the lowest councillor allowances in the country and the independent panel recommended that these be brought in line with the average of the other Tyne and Wear authorities.
“This is just political game-playing by the Tories. The real damage to local services is being caused by a Tory-led government who have cut the funding to councils like North Tyneside whilst increasing funding for councils in more affluent areas of the country.”
Mary Glindon was unavailable for comment.
Source – Newcastle Evening Chronicle, 24 Feb 2015