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Bid to slash councillors' allowance voted down

By Rebecca Black

An attempt to slash a special allowance for councillors who hold senior council or party positions has been voted down.

A total pot of £108,000 per year is available for payments to councillors in Belfast under the Special Responsibility Allowance (SRA).

It is awarded to councillors who hold positions considered to involve extra responsibilities.

These include chairs and deputy chairs of council committees, and group and deputy group leaders of the political parties.

Parties with more than 11 councillors can also claim an allowance for a party secretary.

Representatives on the new Belfast super council are paid an annual basic wage of £14,200 - up from the 'old' councils where they were paid £9,835 per year.

The SRA payments are in addition to this and start at £6,750 for a committee chair.

People Before Profit councillor Gerry Carroll said accepting these payments sent out a bad message at a time when the perception of politicians is "at best sceptical".

He said he would prefer to see the money diverted into front line services.

Green Party councillor Ross Brown proposed that the maximum allowance be reduced by 10% and the money diverted into front line council services.

PUP councillor Billy Hutchinson said he supported the sentiment.

Alliance councillor Michael Long said although this would adversely affect him as a party group leader, he was in support of it.

However the DUP, Sinn Fein, UUP and SDLP opposed the proposal.

Sinn Fein councillor Jim McVeigh accused Mr Carroll of "shallow slogans", while the DUP's Christopher Stalford lashed out at Mr Long.

He claimed that as a partner in a dental practice Mr Long could afford a pay cut that other councillors may not be able to.

The proposal was lost with 38 voting against and 13 voting for.

Belfast Telegraph


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