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Councillors to vote against expenses rise

Councillors are expected to vote against claiming more cash in expenses in response to the credit crunch.

Despite a recommendation by the Independent Remuneration Panel (IRP) that councillor allowances should go up by 1.5 per cent in 2009/10, members of Gravesham Borough Council decided the move would be unpopular with voters.

Instead, the money that could have been claimed will be given to the Citizen’s Advice Bureau in the town to help it cope with the expected increase in people seeking help with debt problems.

Cllr Mike Snelling, leader of GBC, said: “During our Conservative group discussions on the recommendation, there was a unanimous view that we should vote for a freeze this year with the cash saved, £3,310, being added to the annual grant that goes to the CAB.”

He added: “The underlying thinking was that at this very difficult time for both the public and council staff, with the latter being asked to accept a modest pay rise this year, and with politicians of all types being held in generally poor regard because of the bad example set at a national level, then it was felt essential to send the right message re our own members.

“It was appreciated that the sum of cash is not huge but we were assured by those of our members that assist with the CAB that due to the demands upon them for debt counselling at present, it will be very welcome.”

The vote will take place at a cabinet meeting at the civic centre on Tuesday at 7pm. It is open to the public.

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