|Ealing Labour Oppose Cutting Allowances To Save Ward Forums|
But forums have been extended for one more year
Labour councillors have opposed a challenge to cut their allowances to help save ward forums - but the public meetings have been given a stay of execution.
At the meeting of the full council (Tuesday 24 February) Liberal Democrats put forward an amendment to a motion to try and save the threatened ward forum meetings by cutting Councillors' allowances.
The regular public meetings have given residents the chance to raise issues with councillors and quiz them about council policies including controversial planning applications and parking charges.
In a cost cutting exercise the council had decided the forums would be scrapped from the end of March and the £20,000 of cash for each ward would be centralised in a Transform Your Space budget.
However, the decision sparked criticism with many claiming it will further distance residents from decision making in the borough.
The Liberal Democrats proposed a budget amendment suggesting they could retain the ward forum budgets at 2019/20 levels (£325,000) by cutting the amount Councillors are paid by a third (30%) - the basic responsibility allowance currently starts at £9,708 and increases dependent on position. They suggested a further cut in Basic and Special Responsibility Allowances of 5.5% would cover the Ward Forum capital expenditure ( £60,000)
Liberal Democrat Leader Councillor Gary Malcolm said, “Liberal Democrats are proud to support our local communities across the borough. Labour have made cut after cut. The Liberal Democrats with our budget amendment would protect ward forums which help fund many schemes including road safety schemes and cycling lessons for children.”
However, the Conservatives voted alongside the Liberal Democrats in favour of the amendment but the Labour majority opposed the motion, so it was defeated.
Ealing has 57 Labour Councillors, 8 Conservative and 4 Liberal Democrats.
Leader of Ealing Council, Councillor Julian Bell said, “All councillors were made aware of the decision taken in December 2019, to maintain ward forums for a further 12 months. We will take this opportunity to look at how we can engage better and with more people in our communities.”
February 26, 2020