Uckfield county councillors criticise allowances hike

Two East Sussex county councillors representing Uckfield are unhappy about increased allowances for members of the authority.

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Cllr Chris Dowling

They think the timing is “not good” and is “inappropriate in the light of budget cuts and inappropriate in the interests of the community”.

The increases, agreed last week, have come during a period when the council is consulting the community about library closures.

The  facility in Uckfield, which has previously suffered a reduction in opening hours, would stay open under the proposals.

On Saturday, the UckfieldNews,com independent columnist, Observer, said the timing of the increased allowances was wrong.

Cllr Chris Dowling, the Conservative member for the Uckfield South and Framfield Division, criticised the rise last night (October 23) at  a meeting of Uckfield Town Council.

His wife, Cllr Claire Dowling, Conservative, represents Uckfield South.

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Cllr Claire Dowling

Cllr Mr Dowling said he had asked county council officers what the position would be to refuse to accept the increase.

“I have asked if I can refuse and they not pay it to me, and Claire. That question has been asked.

‘If they say you have got to have it, which they might do, any net amount (NI and tax is payable on the allowances] that comes through, we will both be donating that to charities.

“We haven’t got to a position where that is agreed.

“It is my intention and Claire’s intention that neither of us will benefit financially from that increase last week.

“There are a number of some colleagues who take a similar view.”

Cllr Dowling said the recommendation to increase allowances came from an independent panel which took a longer-term view.

“There was a comment about getting more diversity on the county council, a better gender balance and getting younger people on to the county council.

More diverse

“I think we do need to look at getting a more diverse body of people there.

“I do believe there has to be some kind of financial recognition for what they do but I do not agree with the increase that has been put forward.”

Uckfield Town Mayor, Cllr Louise Eastwood, Trust Independent, Uckfield North, told Cllr Dowling that residents would be pleased to hear the news.

Residents upset

“I am aware it is a very difficult position you have been put into. At this time, with all the cuts that are happening in East Sussex, the allowances has just come at the wrong time.

“Residents don’t see how this decision has been made and are quite upset about it, naturally.”

Libraries

Earlier in the meeting, local resident Val Frost, addressing councillors from the public gallery, told town councillors that no public library should be closed.

She said they were a place of peace, learning and research and provided a community resource which should not be lost.

Making people travel further to library facilities would restrict usage, she said.

Appalled

“I was absolutely appalled to find out that the discussions at county took place on the same day that county councillors were discussing increasing their allowances.

“These career politicians at Wealden district and county should be working  for their electorate, not their own bank accounts.

“I hope all our local representatives at all authority levels will be pushing county not to accept any increase in allowances and, indeed, accept a drop in their allowances, in order to provide more services to the electorate, including police funding,” she said.

“That would be a way to save money.

“It should start from the top. The council leader is demanding an awesomely inappropriate 37 per cent rise in his allowances which he apparently thinks he is worth.

“Our local county representatives should be seen to vote against any increase in allowances, especially the 37 per cent.”

See also:

New beauty therapist joins Lucy at Blush Beauty Room

Uckfield Model Railway Club exhibition pictures and story

Uckfield writer Michael J Ritchie signs contract for second novel

Find local businesses in our Uckfield Directory

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