The Conservatives at West Sussex County Council rejected a plan to reduce Special Responsibility Allowances of their own councillors by twenty-five percent on Friday instead voting to only cut opposition allowances. They did this shortly after choosing to remove funding for mid-morning milk for children on Free School Meals, echoing the decision on school milk by Margaret Thatcher in the 1970s.
The plan to reduce allowances was put forward by Liberal Democrat and Labour councillors. A much-needed savings of over £90,000 would have been realised had the Conservatives agreed to take a 25% cut to the extra allowances of committee chairmen, cabinet members, the Leader and Foster Panel members in addition to those proposed for opposition leaders and the Chairman and Vice Chairman. However, the Conservatives furiously rejected this proposal.
Almost all Horsham Conservatives voted against the proposal. Those who voted to feather their own nests include:
- Leader of the Council, Paul Marshall (Storrington)
- Cabinet Member for Adults and Health, Amanda Jupp (Billingshurst)
- Cabinet Member for Education and Skills, Nigel Jupp (Southwater and Nuthurst)
- The Leader receives an allowance of £33,849, whilst the two Cabinet Members receive £21,663, all on top of their basic allowances
- Chairman of the Foster Panel, Pat Arculus (Pulborough, who also receives an allowance abstained on the vote.
Cllr Morwen Millson (Liberal Democrat, Horsham Riverside) said, “In an unedifying and unseemly debate, the Conservatives showed their true colours. All councillors know we are facing cuts to vital services that look after the most vulnerable residents in the county. Yet an hour after voting not to continue funding mid-morning milk for our poorest children, evoking memories of Margaret Thatcher, the Conservatives voted against a proposal to cut a portion of their special responsibility allowances while cutting those of opposition councillors. The savings proposed would have been enough to fund milk provision twice over. At a time when the number of children in receipt of Free School Meals is rapidly growing, this is shameful behaviour by the Conservatives.”
- The Council meeting can be viewed here: https://westsussex.public-i.tv/core/portal/webcast_interactive/524144. The debate on Milk at School Break Time is at item 7c, while the debate on Council allowances is at item 8
- The opposition amendment can be read here: https://westsussex.moderngov.co.uk/documents/b8860/Item%208%20-%20Report%20of%20the%20IRP%20Proposed%20amendment%2011th-Dec-2020%2010.30%20County%20Council.pdf?T=9
- Allowances received in 2019/20 at West Sussex County Councillors are available here: https://westsussex.moderngov.co.uk/documents/s16310/membersallowances2019to2020.pdf
- An answer to Cllr Kirsty Lord’s written question in November revealed that the number of children in receipt of Free School Meals has grown from 11,469 in January 2020 to around 15,000: Written Questions (moderngov.co.uk)