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Derek Murphy reveals why he voted against Conservatives over 15% allowance increase

By Paul Francis

The lone Conservative county councillor to rebel over a 15% increase in members’ pay says he could not justify the hike to voters.

Cllr Derek Murphy, elected in May for the Deal division in east Kent, was the only Conservative of 68 who refused to support the increase in allowances.

Meanwhile, KCC has revealed the 15% increase will cost the taxpayer an extra £244,712 for each of the next four years - a total of £978,848.

Derek Murphy voted against the expenses rise

This year it will be paid for from “uncommitted underspend” but beyond that, no decisions have been taken.

Speaking publicly about his decision, Cllr Murphy said: “This is not an implied criticism of my fellow Conservatives but I didn’t feel I could vote for it.

"My conscience couldn’t justify it. I am here to serve the people of Deal, Walmer and Sholden and I am not in it for the money.”

He added: “I am still not saying that councillors are not worth the money. Councillors do put in a lot of time and effort and they are caring.”

“But I had to think of how the people in my division would want me to vote and it would not be right to vote for an increase in an age of austerity.”

Councillors voted themselves at 15% allowance increase. Stock picture

Meanwhile, it has emerged nine Conservatives abstained in the vote to raise their pay. The nine include Cllr Jeremy Kite, the Conservative leader of Dartford council and a deputy cabinet member at KCC.

Ashford councillor Clair Bell was among the nine. She said she understood the arguments for increasing allowances but felt it was not the right time.

“I felt the recommendations of the independent panel was the way to go. I understand why other councillors think differently and voted the way they did.

"But it is the wrong time, with the debate on public sector pay, and I did not feel comfortable voting for the increase.”

Other Conservatives who abstained were: Cllr Michael Norwood (Swanley); Cllr Trevor Bond (Deal and Walmer); Cllr Sue Chandler (Sandwich); Cllr Rosalind Binks (Broadstairs); Cllr Rory Love (Cheriton Sandgate & Hythe East); Cllr Jan Ozog (Dartford West); Cllr David Butler (Dartford North East).

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