The Liberal Democrats have slammed a “recession-busting” rise in deputy council leader Clyde Loakes’ pay.
The council decision, which was opposed by opposition parties, means a “special responsibility allowance” of £21,000 increases to £26,000 – a boost of just less than 24 per cent.
Councillor Loakes, deputy council leader and cabinet member for environment, was granted the increase because of his work in the absence of council leader Chris Robbins and his responsibility for “major programmes”, the council says.
In December Cllr Loakes hit out on Twitter against MPs receiving an 11 per cent pay rise in 2015, saying it was “shocking” and that he was “not impressed”.
The special responsibility allowance plus the basic rate for councillors takes Cllr Loakes' allowance to £36,000 per year while cabinet members receive £31,000 and the council leader is paid £50,000.
The Lib Dems claim one of the programmes, Redefining Waltham Forest, is a cost-cutting exercise that will result in job losses and pay rates falling.
Lib Dem leader Councillor Bob Sullivan said: “When most people are getting no increase or even reductions in their pay, to vote for extra money to be given to a Labour councillor in the face of all the cuts is outrageous.”
A council spokeswoman said the authority agreed in December to reinstate a special responsibility allowance band for a deputy leader, while a junior cabinet member position was deleted, saving £3,000 per year.
The junior cabinet post was vacated when Geoff Hammond, currently serving a prison sentence for defrauding a charity he worked for of nearly £100,000, resigned.
“This is in recognition of the deputy leader’s role in undertaking duties in the absence of the leader and in leading on major council programmes,” the spokeswoman added.
Lib Dem councillor Mahmood Hussain said: “The Labour administration tried to justify the rise as prudent, saying how they have saved money by not filling a vacant role, but that’s just what local businesses have been doing to try and survive this recession - not to give their mates a whopping pay rise.”
The council spokeswoman added that previous savings of £114,809 were made in 2010 and £78,059 in 2011 through a range of measures including the deletion of two cabinet posts and a reduction in members’ allowances by 5%.