Labour Party members campaigning at Bloxwich Market

Walsall Labour campaigns against allowance rises

Labour Party members campaigning at Bloxwich Market Square

The Labour Party in Walsall has launched a petition to oppose the proposed increase in allowances to Walsall councillors. It will be presented at the full meeting of Walsall Council on Monday evening by Labour leader of the opposition, Tim Oliver.

The petition was launched in Bloxwich on Saturday, with local Labour councillors from Bloxwich, Birchills-Leamore and Blakenall Heath plus supporters coming together to campaign.

Cllr Ann Young, Cllr Kath Phillips, Short Heath candidate Matt Ward, Cllr Tina Jukes, Cllr Julie Fitzpatrick, Cllr Ian Robertson, Cllr Sue Fletcher-Hall and former councillor Richard Worrall joined forces with Walsall North Labour MP David Winnick at the Market Square to speak to and collect signatures from the public. They also continued their campaign against swingeing cuts proposed in the opening hours of Bloxwich Police Station.

Walsall Labour councillors will vote against any overall increase in the budget for councillors’ allowances when they are presented at the meeting.

Labour councillors on Walsall council will reject plans to swell overall annual payments to cabinet members by nearly £16,000 a year.

Tim Oliver commented “We have been overwhelmed by the anger that these proposals have generated. Walsall people are ashamed that at this difficult time the local Tory councillors appear more interested in their own welfare rather than that of the borough.

Labour Party members gathered in High Street, Bloxwich.  David Winnick, MP, Cllr Ian Robertson, Short Heath candidate Matt Ward, Cllr Tina Jukes, Cllr Julie Fitzpatrick, former Cllr Richard Worrall.
Labour Party members gathered in High Street, Bloxwich. David Winnick, MP, Cllr Ian Robertson, Short Heath candidate Matt Ward, Cllr Tina Jukes, Cllr Julie Fitzpatrick, former Cllr Richard Worrall.

The recommendation being put forward by the ruling Tory administration comes as councillors learnt of more job losses and more cuts in the government’s funding to Walsall council.

The Leader of the Council’s Labour group, Cllr Tim Oliver said any increase in overall councillors’ allowances is totally “unacceptable.”

“At a time when the council are preparing to cut more jobs and our staff are coping with a pay freeze, this move appears at best out of touch and insensitive. There is no question of Walsall Labour supporting this move.”

“It is certainly our view that there are matters which need correcting within Walsall’s councillor allowance scheme. But let us be clear – we believe any corrections should be done within existing budgets. If in control Walsall Labour would look toward a different structure, but any changes made would have to balance themselves out at no extra cost.”

Labour campaigners busy collecting signatures on Saturday
Labour campaigners busy collecting signatures on Saturday

The recommendation to increase senior councillors’ pay comes in a report by an independent committee on elected members’ allowances. It proposes that special responsibility payments to the council leader would increase by £2000 to £22,365 a year; from £8.300 to £15,000 for the deputy leader, while seven remaining members of the cabinet would see their individual allowances rise to £9300 per year; an increase in the cabinet’s wage bill of £15,700 per year.