At a recent full council budget meeting, the Lib Dem controlled Cirencester Town Council agreed to increase their share of council tax by 6.8% on the back of a 7.8% rise in the Town’s share of council tax last year.
Band D taxpayers will now be charged £143.89 per year for services provided by Cirencester town council for the 2021-22 financial year.
Part of the reason for the significant rise in council tax is to fund the new councillors’ allowances and expenses that town councillors have voted unanimously to pay themselves from the start of the 2021-22 financial year.
The town council had previously introduced a basic elected member’s allowance of £500 and a further Chair of Council allowance of £500. They also agreed to introduce an elected members expenses policy as part of the budget estimates for 2021-22.
The decision was voted for by 15-0 with one town councillor absent. The town council is a mixture of Lib Dem and Green elected members. No Conservatives are currently elected.
The town council’s 2021-22 budget line titled “Staff, Member and Mayor Allowances and Expenses” has allocated £16,500, up from £12,500 in the previous year.
This additional expenditure is a significant increase for a smallish town council, and a major justification to increase council tax by 7%.
District and County councillors get paid an allowance, however it is extremely rare for town or parish councillors to reward themselves financially as the position is traditionally viewed as voluntary and community service orientated.
There are no other town or parish councils in the Cotswolds who pay their elected members an annual allowance.
This is history repeating itself. At the first Lib Dem Council meeting on 14 May 2019, they voted through an increase in District Councillors’ allowances by 25%.