- Posted by: Canterbury Labour
- Category: Latest News
On the 28th May, Conservative councillors on the Council’s COVID Emergency Commitee voted against proposals by local Labour Councillors that additional allowances afforded to chairs of council committees currently not meeting should not be paid. The debate came following the revelation that Canterbury City Council is facing a £13m black hole in its finances during the COVID crisis and was proposed as we felt these allowances were no longer being learnt.
As part of the meeting Chairman of the policy and resources committee Cllr Rachel Carnac (Con) said that although they may not be having public meetings, she was still doing work behind the scenes. “I have meetings tomorrow – I have them all the time,” she said; with Cllr Ian Stockley asserting that he felt committee chairs were ‘earning every penny’.
However a Freedom of Information request submitted by Councillor Valerie Kenny proves that this is not the case and that, as we suspected, it was not common practice for committee chairs to be meeting or working during this time.
The request (FOI Ref 8994) shows that between the 23rd of March (the date on which committees were formally stopped) and the 28th May(the date of our proposal), there were only 11 meetings involving senior officers and committee chairs, ten of which relate to meetings held with the Councillor Rob Thomas, Leader of the Council, which the Labour Group believe to be quite right and proper given that the new governance arrangements for the COVID Emergency Committee were not in place. The request does show that Cllr Carnac did have one meeting on the 6th April but this was an update, where no decisions were made and unfortunately no minutes of the meeting exist to indicate how much, or little, were involved. The request shows no meetings involving the chairs of all three local area member forums, Governance, Audit or Community Committees. All of these committees are chaired by Conservative members apart from the Canterbury Forum which is chaired by Labour Councillor Jean Butcher who asked the additional allowance not be allocated to her. The original motion indicated that councillors understood Planning and Licensing Committees were still continuing to meet.
Councillor Val Kenny, responding to the findings said, ‘this just proves what we thought that committee chairs are taking tax payers money for jobs they simply aren’t doing at the moment, at a time when many of us are struggling financially, this is not on.”
Councillor Jean Butcher, who submitted the initial motion said “the majority of Tory chairs and vice chairs take there special responsibility for doing nothing! It’s quite simply a disgrace”.