Lib Dems make official call for Assistant Cabinet Members to be scrapped
Rochdale Lib Dem Leader, Councillor Andy Kelly has called for the controversial post of Assistant Cabinet members to be scrapped. He made the call in a meeting with an Independent Remuneration Panel, who periodically look at councillor's allowances. The Milnrow and Newhey councillor called for an end to a "... jobs for the comrades" mentality and claimed that a whopping 80% of councillors on the authority receive a Special Responsibility Allowance - one of the highest in percentages in the country.
Councillor Kelly said: "Democracy in this borough has never been more expensive. I was pleased to have the opportunity to put over my opinion to an independent body. It has long been my belief that Assistant Cabinet Members posts should to be scrapped. There is no need for them - they offer nothing to this Council, are a waste of money and I hope that the independent body acts on my concerns."
There are currently nine Assistant Cabinet Members on Rochdale Council. They each cost taxpayers £2,106.07 annually, a total of £18,954.63 every year. This is equivalent to over six school crossing patrols that the Council are suggesting that schools pay for instead of them.
Kelly added: "The very first thing that Labour did when they took over the Council in 2012 was to bring in these non-jobs. They claimed in opposition that they would reduce the cost of democracy - instead it's gone through the roof. There was a time when being a councillor was voluntary. It was seen as public service. Now we have a new generation of professional politicians. The average councillor in this Borough earns more than the local average wage. How can that be right?"
Councillor Irene Davidson made the call to scrap the positions at the last council meeting. She asked Council Leader Richard Farnell: "Whilst I appreciate that money is tight - do you agree with me that this council has the wrong priorities? This council is aiming cuts at the most vulnerable whilst retaining non-jobs like Assistant Cabinet Members, costing this council thousands. Would the leader of the council send a clear message to the people of this Borough that they are on their side by axing Assistant Cabinet Members - or at least the Special Responsibility Allowance that goes with it?"
Councillor Farnell brushed the question off claiming they have never been busier, something the Lib Dems refute. "He may not be able to brush off a recommendation from an Independent Panel," claims Kelly. The panel are expected to report back shortly.