Call for South Tyneside councillors to donate £1,000 share of allowances to food banks

South Tyneside councillors have been urged to give up part of their cash entitlements to support good causes during the pandemic.

By James Harrison
Friday, 15th January 2021, 12:31 pm
Updated Friday, 15th January 2021, 12:34 pm
Independent councillor John Robertson has suggested members could contribute some of their allowances to food banks
Independent councillor John Robertson has suggested members could contribute some of their allowances to food banks

And it has prompted one member of South Tyneside Council to call on his colleagues to do more to support good causes working in the area.

“Throughout the pandemic us councillors have done as best as we can, but we’ve been getting paid every month by the council and I think we should lead by example,” said John Robertson, an independent councillor and leader of the council’s opposition.

“If every [serving] councillor was to agree to donate £1,000 of their allowances, that’s [£51,000].

“It’s about leading by example – let the residents see we’re doing our bit, that we’re putting something back into the pot.”

Cllr Robertson was speaking at a meeting of the borough council’s People Select Committee, which was held by videolink and broadcast via YouTube on January 12.

Each elected member of the council is permitted to claim a ‘basic allowance’ every year worth £7,667.

Cllr Robertson, who as leader of the council’s main opposition group is entitled to a further ‘special responsibility allowance’ (SRA) on top of this worth £2,556, made the suggestion after hearing presentations on the work of the borough’s food banks during the crisis.

But not everyone was convinced by his suggestion.

Cllr John McCabe, the committee’s chairman, insisted there were other ways of contributing.

He said: “You don’t have to publicly announce that you’re working or doing something of a charitable nature.

“If you feel you can contribute, contribute, if you don’t feel you can do it with your money you can do it with your efforts, by driving, dropping supplies off, collecting food parcels.

“There’s a myriad way of assisting people.

“It’s a nice idea, but my opinion is that each person can do what they need to do themselves, without making a big hue and cry and shouting ‘I’ve given £1,000’.”

Out of 54 council seats, 51 are currently occupied following resignations and deaths in office.

In 2019/20 £802,725.36 was paid out through the council’s allowances and expenses scheme.

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