The Bolton Liberal Democrats 6 year campaign calling for a reduction in the amount of cash paid out to Councillors in Special Responsibility Allowances has been boosted by a group of unlikely supporters.

The Bolton Conservative Party, who back in February joined the Bolton Labour Party in dismissing the Liberal Democrats budget amendment for a reduction in SRAs, are now joining in calls to "reduce both the number and levels of special responsibility allowances paid to members" - although their support falls short of backing the Lib Dem proposal to reduce the number of councillors by a third.

Since 2010, when the Bolton News first reported on the issue (http://www.theboltonnews.co.uk/news/8749209.Allowance_cuts____can_save___56k___/), the Liberal Democrats have led calls to reduce the allowance paid out to some members of the Council for 'special responsibilities', on top of the standard £11,416 yearly allowance, arguing that the cash could be better spent on front line services instead of on members with no decision making responsibilities. Currently 25 out of 37 Labour councillors - 68% of the total Labour representation on the Council - are in receipt of some form of SRA, whilst the Conservatives currently have 5 out of 15 Councillors in receipt of SRAs.

Yet next Wednesday a motion penned by Cllr Walsh seems to suggest a U-turn by the Conservatives as they propose:

The Council could immediately institute arrangements to implement ways to:

1. Reduce both the number and levels of special responsibility allowances paid to members,

and

2. Potentially save even more money, paying fewer special responsibility allowances, by returning to the former system of committees. Arrangements based on the two directorates and the existing model of scrutiny committees, with mechanisms for call in as previously operated, to avoid delay or added bureaucracy for urgent matters could be easily implemented. As a committee structure would have the added benefit of involving more members of the Council in the decision making process this would give greater transparency to the work and decision making processes of the council.


Cllr Roger Hayes, Leader of the Bolton Liberal Democrats said:

"After 5 years of being the only party working hard to reduce the amount of money wasted on un-needed SRAs, it is of course a welcome sight to see other parties now following in our footsteps. That said, we are disappointed to hear that the Conservatives still refuse to support our call for a reduction in the number of councillors.

"Speaking to residents across Bolton it is clear that people want to see fewer Councillors, reduced spending on Councillors and more money being given to front line services. However it seems the Bolton Labour Council - like the Conservative Government - are completely out of tune with the electorate and focussed on cutting services whilst keeping hold of the money they give themselves"

"Whilst cutting SRAs will go some way to readdressing the balance, we here in the Bolton liberal Democrats will continue to fight for a reduction in the number of Councillors and help to create a more open, honest and accountable Council"

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Notes

1. http://www.theboltonnews.co.uk/news/14611803.Council_called_to____cut_councillors__not_services___/

2. http://www.theboltonnews.co.uk/news/14372188.REVEALED__Bolton_Council_pays_out_more_than___800_000_to_councillors_in_one_year

3. http://www.theboltonnews.co.uk/news/8749209.Allowance_cuts____can_save___56k___/


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