Andover UKIP has been busy issuing a number of proposals to “save” council tax payers money. However, as with most of their policies, none are actually viable and all display their usual double standards. The proposals include abolishing Andover town council, and cutting Test Valley councillor and employee pay to fund free parking in Andover.
North West Hants Lib Dem vice chairman, Len Gates, has responded to these plans –
“I am amazed by the spin put on council finances by Cllrs Hooke and Rolt. They propose to abolish the town council. But all the costs would merely be transferred to an increased Andover levy. And we would have to pay for another ballot despite having voted twice for a town council. Of course, they won’t pay. They don’t live in Andover. Next they want to cut TestValley councillor and employees’ pay to fund free parking. Everyone, including councillors and council staff, is entitled to a fair rate for the job. These rates are set independently to reflect this, not at the whim of individual councillors. A rational review of staffing and councillor numbers could produce savings well in excess of their ill-thought proposals. Although they call for cuts everywhere else they are reluctant to look closer to home. Cllr Hooke commendably pays his allowance to Neighbourcare. But Cllr Rolt and most other UKIP councillors are paid over £16,000 each, in all they cost us £160,000 per year. Perhaps they should look at this before cutting costs elsewhere.”
The facts are
Andover Town councillors, like all town and parish councillors, do not get paid. The only costs incurred are staffing and administration. If the town council were abolished these would merely be transfered back to Test Valley Borough Council. Andover council tax payers would end up paying at least as much, if not more, in an Andover levy and they would loose any local representation and control over these costs.
Abolition of the town council cannot take place without another public consultation to establish that there is “justified, clear and sustained local support” for such a move. Yet another costly referendum to overturn the two votes already held which established that the people of Andover wanted the same rights a every other resident of Hampshire. Interestingly they have not called to abolish Yateley town council where Cllr Hooke lives, nor Goodworh Clatford parish council; where Cllr Rolt lives.
Borough councillors’ allowances are set at regular intervals by an independent assessor. They reflect the time spent on the role and are intended to compensate councillors for loss of earnings elsewhere. The current allowance is £6300 pa. Only a proportion of the time spent on council duties is included when calculations are made. Staff pay is also subject to independent assessment.
There are currently 48 councillors on TestValley representing Andover, Romsey and the surrounding rural areas. Some rural councillors represent just 1600 voters while those in urban areas represent almost half as many again. In Andover there are three councillors for each ward. The number of councillors could be easily reduced.
Cllr Hooke forever reminds us he gives his councillor allowance to Neighbourcare. All ten UKIP councillors claim the full £12,000 from HCC. On election they immediately demanded special allowances for their group. As a result no less than seven claim a special responsibility allowance and another a leader’s allowance. The leader also claims an MEP salary plus expenses.