Leigh Town Council “shambles” as plans for 600% hike in allowance for councillors are dropped

Leigh Town Council has been branded a “shambles” after ditching plans to increase councillor allowances by 600 per cent.

The Tory-run council had tabled a motion to increase councillor allowances from £85 to £500 but Mark Flewitt, councillor for Elms Ward who was behind the motion, failed to show up to an extraordinary council meeting on Monday.

The council had also called for a consultant to be employed to undertake a review of council staff. This was passed but the motion put forward by Sandra McCurdy, vice-chairman of the council, was said to be so lacking in detail it cannot be implemented without major revision.

Town clerk Helen Symons said: “The first motion to do with the allowances was withdrawn. I only got advice of that about five minutes before the meeting started.

“The other motion to do with staffing, they did pass the motion but it was so poorly-worded that I had to advise them they needed to provide a full brief of what it is they are actually looking for and that will come back to full council on July 25.

“We have had no contact from the councillors as to why they want to do it.”

Carole Mulroney, councillor for St Clement’s ward, branded the situation a “complete and utter shambles”.

She said: “They didn’t know what they were doing. They called a special meeting so you’ve got staff there. They’ve got to prepare the agenda and do all the research to make sure all the advice was right and it just completely fizzled out. I don’t think it’s any way to run a council.”

Cllr Mulroney added: “They are wanting to waste money on a review of staff. For goodness sake we’ve got the best staff we could possibly have there. They do a fantastic job.”

Speaking about the allowance increase, Bernard Arscott, Conservative chairman of the council said: “It was wrongly worded. It should have been about expenses rather than allowances. We don’t have an allowance at all. We have no money paid to us at all.

“The council at this stage has no intention to resubmit it.”

Regarding the staff review, Cllr Arscott added: “We want to make sure we have the right staff in place with the right support and the right training to make sure we have enough staff and on the right type of contract to make sure we have people covering all the roles that are required.”

Christine Sexton

Local Democracy Reporter