AN INCREASE in Royal Borough councillors’ allowances was branded a “slap in the face to residents” – as it was heavily rejected by members at a full council meeting.

Councillors across the country are paid basic allowances each year so they are not financially penalised when carrying out their council duties and to cover expenses.

The Independent Remuneration Panel – which determines the level of payments to elected members of the council – recommended to councillors of the Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead their basic allowance should increase from £8,143 to £8,260 – a £117 raise.

They also recommended the council leader’s special responsibility allowance – which covers the leader, deputy leader, mayor, and leaders of the opposition – should increase from £24,428 to £24,780 and the deputy leader’s from £13,434 to £13,629.

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In the build-up to the debate, a number of councillors stated on their social media accounts they would not be voting in favour of the increase.

The lead member for finance, councillor David Hilton (Conservative: Ascot and Sunninghill), said: “Given the negative financial position created by Covid and the fact that this year the council staff did not receive a pay increase, to me, this recommendation makes no sense at all.

“I have no desire for my council allowance to be increased while many people I represent are struggling as a result of the pandemic.”

The leader of the opposing Liberal Democrats, councillor Simon Werner (Pinkneys Green), was the only one seeing a slash in his allowance – which he said he was “very, very happy about”.

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Being the main opposition group leader, he receives £4,886 and it was agreed the two opposition leaders would now split £6,195 proportionately between them based on the number of members in each group.

Cllr Werner said: “I don’t see how on earth we can justify anyone receiving an increase in these terrible times.

“I think it would be a slap in the face to the residents of the borough who pay their council tax, coupled with the financial situation at the council – which is, we all agree, really, really desperate.

“It would totally be the wrong thing to do at the moment.”

The meeting was heard at a full council meeting held on Zoom on October 27 (Tuesday).