Tempers flare as councillors vote for tax hike - and pay rise for themselves
PUBLISHED: 17:07 17 February 2020 | UPDATED: 17:07 17 February 2020
Neil Perry/Norfolk County Council/Denise Bradley
Tempers flared in the council chamber as Conservative councillors agreed to award themselves a third pay rise in as many years - while simultaneously raising council tax.
For the second consecutive year, Norfolk County Council agreed to press forward with plans to raise allowances by 2pc, despite an independent advice panel warning them against making the move.
And there were heated exchanges as tempers flared between Conservative councillor Thomas Smith and members of the Labour group, which proposed scrapping the increase.
All but one Conservative councillor voted in favour of awarding themselves the increase, which will see allowances increased by 2pc - in line with a pay rise for council staff.
It came as the council also agreed to raise its council tax share by almost 4pc -an increase that will see more than £50 a year added to bills for Band D properties.
However, as a Labour motion to forgo the allowance hike was debated, there were fiery exchanges between Mr Smith and opposition members.
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Mr Smith, who represents the Gaywood South division, accused Labour members of opposing allowance increases while "putting every penny in their pockets".
Since 2017, when councillors were awarded a controversial 11pc pay rise, Labour members vowed to use the increase to help causes in their communities.
In response to Mr Smith's allegations, group leader Steve Morphew said: "I am very happy for people to complain about my policies or my political beliefs, but as soon as they attack our integrity we have a problem.
"He called us liars and said we are not doing the things we are - that is absolutely unacceptable."
Andrew Proctor, leader of the council, said: "Sometimes in the heat of debate you do find emotions running high and we can end up saying things that perhaps we later regret."
Mr Proctor confirmed he would be discussing the conflict with Mr Smith, with Mr Morphew indicating that he would be making a formal complaint against the Conservative councillor.
Rhodri Oliver, who represents the Attleborough ward, was the only Conservative councillor to vote against taking the allowance increase.