Four leading city councillors are to give up their right to a controversial £15,000 a year allowance following pressure from back bench colleagues.
The three main party leaders, Conservative Mike Whitby, Liberal Democrat Paul Tilsley and Labour’s Sir Albert Bore, plus the Cabinet member for Regeneration Neville Summerfield were all set to receive the special allowance for attending a handful of NEC Group board meetings each year.
But a feared back bench revolt by all three parties at the next city council meeting on April 13 has forced them into a U-turn and the allowance will no longer be included in their annual pay package.
It comes just a week after the leaders rejected a call by the Independent Remuneration Panel, which advises on councillors’ pay, to show restraint in these difficult economic times and refuse the NEC handout.
The £60,000 top up sparked fury among colleagues, trade unions and taxpayers groups who said it was obscene at a time when the council is making hundreds, possibly thousands redundant.
Council leader Mike Whitby (Harborne) said the panel’s recommendations will now be put to the council in full.
He said: “I have accepted and agreed with the Independent Remuneration Panel and I’ll be recommending that the council adopts the panel’s
“There is a full ‘root and branch’ review planned as one of the nine recommendations that the panel have made, I think they are all very appropriate and I wholeheartedly back them.”
Meanwhile Coun Tilsley late last week sent a letter to the council’s chief executive Stephen Hughes saying that he had not received any payment since the allowance was introduced last summer and does not wish do so in future.
He said: “I never had the money and will not take it. Last week I did point out that there is a special responsibility, we have to be vetted by the Security Industry Authority - an organisation which regulates night club bouncers - which suggests some degree of extra responsibility. I therefore suspended a decision until after the full council meeting.
“But I have since decided that the Independent Remuneration Panel was right.”
Last week he told the Business Management Committee: “Given the responsibility that you do carry I would accept the SRA. But I have suspended it until we have clarification of the situation from the full council.”
Councillors in all three major parties have made their outrage at the allowance known to their leaders over the last few days prompting fears of an embarrassing defeat for the leaders unless it was withdrawn.
The four councillors are appointed to the NEC Group board as the city council is the major shareholder and covers group losses. The allowance was introduced last summer to bring them into line with private sector board members who are paid.