If you are confused by the Councillor allowance situation; you will not be alone.
We know that every Bexley Councillor voluntarily didn’t take last year’s 2·75% increase. None have broken ranks so far but they could do so at any time in future and because they could the money has to be kept in a separate pot never to be used.
Councillor Hackett’s proposal was to give up that increase and the coming year’s 3% and set it in stone via the budget. That way the money could be spent on something more worthy. Labour suggested the Community Libraries.
The Conservatives were having none of it and rejected the budget amendment. Totally giving up the chance of £42,452 did not appeal to them.
Council Leader Teresa O’Neill commented on last year’s gesture but rejected a repeat for 2021/22. Overnight the enormity of what the Conservatives had done appeared to strike home.
The two parties plus Danny Hackett fired off Press Releases to explain their position but the News Shopper only used Councillor Hackett’s. (The News Shopper amended their report later in the day.)
The Tory propaganda machine @bexleynews Tweeted that their Councillors had already agreed not to take the increase for this year despite the money being allocated in the budget but their Leader had apparently forgotten about their generosity or surely it would have been part of her riposte to Councillor Hackett on Wednesday evening. It wasn’t.
Given the news source some will think it may have been one of many things that are simply made up. But it wasn’t.
As yesterday wore on both Mayor James Hunt and Councillor John Davey were active on Social Media saying that Councillors from both parties weren’t going to take the extra money. Both credible and honest in my experience but neither said anything about it on Wednesday evening. Back then the Conservative line, clearly stated by their Leader, was that they had given up the money for 2020/21 but rejected the idea for 2021/22.
So the Tories had misgivings overnight about their inadequate presentational skills but they are still not in the same ball park as Councillor Hackett - or Labour for that matter. If the Tories mean what they are now saying it still doesn’t release the money to good causes. It must remain in the reserved pot in case one of them falls on hard times and needs the money.
It is a silly plan and sooner or later the Conservatives will realise that Councillor Hackett talks rather more sense than they do.