Press Statement from Richard Wilson, Labour Prospective Parliamentary Candidate, Guildford
19 May 2014 – for immediate release
Petition Launched to Reverse Councillors’ Pay Hike
A petition has been launched on Surrey County Council’s own website to force leading councillors to return the massive allowances they recently voted themselves.[note 1]
The entire Independent Remuneration Panel resigned after the Conservative majority group on the Council ignored its recommendations and forced through huge rises for its appointment holders [note 2]. For example, the Deputy Leader’s special allowance was increased by 60% and he now collects nearly £44,000 per year in allowances.
There was a public outcry at the scale and audacity of the rises. The Council has come under fierce criticism about the deteriorating state of Surrey’s roads, despite Conservative council candidates at the last election pledging to fix potholes. The public feels powerless to stop councillors from enriching themselves and to force them to fix our roads.
However, this could be about to change. Under the council’s own rules Surrey residents can set up a petition on its website and Richard Wilson [note 3] has done just that. The petition calls on councillors to “return the massive unacceptable pay rises awarded to leading councillors”. There is nothing the council can do to remove the petition.
Richard Wilson explained, “Like many people, I felt enraged by the blatant abuse of power by councillors who voted themselves huge pay rises. This petition is an ideal method for angry Surrey Council Tax payers to express how they feel. When I set up the petition I had a short negotiation with the council’s staff to make sure it complies with their rules. I was happy to remove all references to names of political parties from it because this is not a party political issue. I am not trying to make political capital from this petition. In fact, I have written to all the councillors who opposed the pay hike to invite them to sign the petition. To show this is a cross-party issue I have also invited my Ukip and LibDem opponents to show they oppose it too. I would like to thank the Ukip parliamentary candidate for signing the petition so quickly.” [note 4]
Richard Wilson added, “Surrey County Council recently voted not to pay all its employees a Living Wage. I was in the public gallery when the Conservative Leader, Cllr Hodge, angrily dismissed the idea of giving employees dignity by permitting them to feed, clothe and house their families from their own pay packet as being unaffordable. Now those very workers will be paying increased Council Tax to finance fat cat Tory councillors. By ignoring independent advice and grabbing this much taxpayers’ money for himself and his appointees he has shown he is totally out of touch with the electorate. I call on Cllr Hodge to return the allowances to the previous level and consider his position on the council.”
After being open for about 2 days the petition already has nearly 100 signatures and is one of the most popular petitions on the council’s website. Anyone can sign the petition but signatures only count when confirmed by clicking on the emailed link which is automatically sent out and usually goes to the “junk” folder.
Note 1: The petition can be found here http://petitions.surreycc.gov.uk/moneygrab/
Note 2: From the BBC website http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-surrey-27398200
Note 4: The UKIP candidate’s tweet of support is here:
Guildford Labour Party
Promoted by Alex Wilks on behalf of Richard Wilson, both of 9b Martyr Road, Guildford, Surrey GU1 4LF