Allowance increase will pour an extra £7,000 into Labour's coffers

December 14, 2016 1:59 PM

Liberal Democrats can today reveal that the Labour party in Rochdale will benefit by an extra £6994.70 if the Council pushes ahead and votes to increase Councillors' Allowances. This means that a mouthwatering £37,362.50 will now pour into the party - a proportion of which goes to Jeremy Corbyn's national Labour party. To become approved to be a Labour candidate in the borough you have to agree to what is called a 'tithe' of 5%. That is the proportion of Councillor's allowances that Labour Councillors have to pay into the local Labour Party for political campaigning. If a Labour Councillor fails to pay the 'tithe' they face disciplinary proceedings.

If the report of the Independent Remuneration Panel is accepted, the Labour group will receive £747,250 up from £607,356 a year; an increase of £139,894. The collective increase in the 'tithe' works out at £6,994.70, and the total now paid into the Labour Party will rise to £37,362.50.

Local Lib Dem Leader Councillor Andy Kelly said: "I feel this news brings us closer to understanding just why the local Labour leadership are insisting their members vote for this increase. I have spoken to many Labour members who feel bullied into voting for this despite extreme reservations. This is especially true of Council members in Heywood and Middleton.

"One of the reasons Richard Farnell has given for pushing this through is to help councillors who may be suffering financially. The fact that they are willing to bank the extra cash raised for political purposes blows this out of the water. Over the past few months, locals have had to tolerate the daily sight of Richard Farnell in inane photo shoots, attending the opening of an envelope in order to raise his public profile. Over the last few days he has gone into lockdown. He realises how sensitive this issue is. He realises that the public are angry. He thinks that because the next set of local elections are not for well over a year people will forget. I give him my assurance that I will not let them."

Councillor Irene Davidson, former leader of Rochdale Council, said: "I am shocked and dismayed by the behaviour of the local Labour party. When I was the leader of the Council, I refused outright to increase salaries of councillors. Councillors in my group were asked to contribute a small proportion of their allowances to campaigning. To help those councillors in financial difficulty: this was purely optional. That is the difference. Labour claim to want to help those councillors who are struggling financially, yet want to bank their money first. In the next breath they claim to want to attract a higher calibre of councillor. Not only is this an insult to their existing members but shows their policy on councillor's allowances is inconsistent and smacks of political and personal greed. I would find it hard to think that the public will ever forgive them."

The Liberal Democrats will vote against the recommendations of the Independent Remuneration Panel at tonight's Council Meeting.