Join Date: Feb 2006
Council facing cuts hands out 'ludicrous' £12,000-a-year CLOTHING allowance so chairwomen can buy fur coats
A cash-strapped council gives £12,000 of taxpayers' money a year to its chairwoman and vice chairwoman so they can spend the cash on clothes.
Durham County Council has refused to axe the perk despite critics saying the money would be better spent on vital services.
The row over the allowance comes as the Labour-controlled authority is making more than £200m in cuts by 2018 and getting rid of 1,600 jobs.
Expensive taste: Durham County Council chairwoman Linda Marshall who receives a clothing allowance of £8,580 from the cash-strapped authority
Current chairwoman Councillor Linda Marshall receives a £13,300 basic allowance paid to all councillors, a special responsibility allowance of £6,650 - and a clothing allowance of £8,580.
The vice-chairwoman Councillor Pauline Charlton receives the basic allowance, a special responsibility allowance of £3,325 and a clothing allowance of £4,280.
Kevin Rowan, regional secretary of the Trade Union Congress, said: 'Everybody knows the financial pressures that councils are under and trade unions have encouraged councillors to take decisions that prioritise protecting services and jobs.
'Councillors need to take the lead by making sure that there aren't any unjustifiable allowances or other perks that they receive.
'Durham County Council workers and tax payers will look at this and find it a bit unnecessary.'
Councillor Mark Wilkes, a Liberal Democrat councillor representing Framwellgate Moor, County Durham, said: 'You can find a reasonably priced suit for a man or woman for about £100.
'So the £12,000 plus that is paid to councillors Marshall and Charlton would pay for the equivalent of 120 suits. We should scrap this waste.
'Labour are fleecing Durham residents and opposition councillors and we have had enough of them trying to pull the wool over our eyes.'
Deputy leader Alan Napier, the council's cabinet portfolio holder for resources, said the allowance had been in place for nearly 30 years.
He said: 'The allowance covers all expenses associated with being the chairman and is not solely a clothing allowance.'
He said the chairwoman had very important civic responsibilities and was bound to incur 'significant expenses'.
According to Mr Napier, workload had increased significantly since the council became a unitary authority in 2009.
However, Nigel Martin, the council's Liberal Democrat leader, said money saved by axing the clothing allowance could used to part-fund the county's Citizens Advice Bureau which is having its funding contributions cut.
He said: 'We don't believe there should be an enormous allowance like this for clothing.
'£8,580, let alone £12,000, is more than a pensioner gets to live on during the course of a year.'
Taxpayer John Marshall, who lives in Shildon, County Durham, said: 'I think this is a ludicrous amount for clothing and something should be done about it.'
Councillor Marshall, who represents Chester-le-Street West for Labour, did not respond to calls to her County Hall office.
The councillor, who lives in Craghead, near Stanley, was previously vice-chairwoman and took over the post in April last year.
Her colleague, the current vice-chairwoman, Councillor Charlton said: 'I don't think it is my place to comment.'
A spokesman for North Yorkshire County Council, which also has a chairman and vice-chair, said: 'We don't pay any additional sums beyond [the] special responsibility allowance.'
Hartlepool and Middlesbrough councils also confirmed that while special responsibility allowances are paid to its chairmen, no additional allowances are paid.
Meanwhile, Surrey County Council, which previously paid a clothing allowance to its chair and vice chair, scrapped the payments three years ago.
Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/arti...hairwomen.html
....need I say more?
Above post is my opinion unless it's a quote.