A councillor has defended his decision to accept an annual increase in his allowances – despite being the only member of Lichfield District Council to do so.
Cllr John Walker (Independent, Curborough) has taken up the 4.6per cent increase, according to a Lichfield District Council spokesperson.
Although councillors are entitled to the increase, at their annual meeting it was agreed that each member of the council would be given a choice of whether they accepted the raise in allowances or not.
And it has now been confirmed that all have opted to reject the rise – except Cllr Walker.
Richard King, Strategic Director of Democratic, Development and Legal Services for Lichfield District Council, said:
“At this year’s annual council meeting, councillors accepted the recommendation of the Independent Remuneration Panel for a 4.6 per cent increase in their allowances. It was also agreed that each councillor should be given the choice whether or not to accept their personal increase.
“But due to the current state of the economy, it was recommended they should not consider doing so. Councillor John Walker later decided to accept his personal increase.”
But Cllr Walker believes the increase is deserved because of the good work that he is involved with in the local community.
“We should take up the increase if we’re doing a good job – and I work hard at what I do. People can ask some of the 70-odd people I’ve helped rehome about that.
“And when people talk about value for money I’m one of the lowest paid councillors in Lichfield.”
Lichfield District Council’s records show that Cllr Walker claimed £3,124.75 in the 2008/09 period.
Cllr Walker added that his commitment to local causes meant his constituents would not begrudge him the raise. He explained:
“I’ve always prided myself on campaigning on local issues that affect local people. I’ve spoken recently about the lack of allotments and the lack of a swimming pool in North Lichfield. People know that if they come to see me then their issues will be dealt with and there are plenty of people I have helped who will confirm that.
“And they know I won’t just be like some of the other councillors who are nothing more than clones of each other and are appearing in photos rather than dealing with the problems local people are facing.”