On May 18, 2016, Mayor John Biggs proposed a personal 11.7% pay increase, to be voted and passed by his Labour administration as a matter of formality given their numbers – this follows their decision to make cuts to Children Services, introduction of new charges for home care service to the elderly and disabled, reducing partnership police force from 40 to six officers, whilst adding a 4% council tax increase.
Pay increases championed by Deputy Mayor, Rachel Saunders, who oversaw the closure of Queen Mary’s nursery and reducing support for children with autism – while not taking the responsibility of her decisions and passing the buck to others.
The Labour Group expressed exhaustive criticism of the previous Mayor’s advisor team – a subject adopted by Mayor Biggs throughout his election campaign, and yet has made an additional £21,000 allowance to three Labour Councillors to become his personal advisors.
Following the devastating cuts of more than £17.4m to public services, Mayor Biggs budgeted £605k for his personal office, with an extra £100k each for a new Head of Marketing and Head of Mayor’s Office – which makes for a shocking U-turn following the Labour Group’s amendment to cut previous Mayor’s salary by £10,000 in 2010*.
Whilst transparency was part of Mayor Biggs’ manifesto – it remains to be clear whether he will be receiving an extra £11,300 as indicated in their proposal for Leader of the Majority Group, for the rest of his term until 2018 or is it just a temporary gimmick to get the increase through this year.
Leader of the Independent Group, Cllr Oliur Rahman, says: “I find it shameful for the Mayor and his Labour Group to line their pockets with tax payers’ money, just three months after members of the public came to this council to plead with them not to cut their vital services. How can they look those people in the eye after giving themselves more pocket money of £21,000 as advisors to the Mayor, a role that is already in their remit – and even more telling is the 40% pay increase gifted by MayorBiggs, supported by Deputy Mayor Rachael Saunders, to their Tory ally, Cllr Peter Golds, which really goes to show who this so-called Labour Group are really serving. Independent Group will not be voting for this proposal and will stand up for residents who have been abandoned by Mayor Biggs and Labour Group.”