�1.2m spent on Haringey councillors' expenses
Charlotte Newton HARINGEY Council will have spent more than �1.2m on councillors expenses for the 2008 to 2009 financial year, the Broadway can reveal. The latest figures show that from April 1 2008 until March this year the town hall will have spent �1,
HARINGEY Council will have spent more than �1.2m on councillors' expenses for the 2008 to 2009 financial year, the Broadway can reveal.
The latest figures show that from April 1 2008 until March this year the town hall will have spent �1,200,900 paying the 57 councillors in Haringey.
This works out as a basic allowance of �10,500 for each ward councillor, and a further �602,400 on the 36 councillors with special responsibilities - such as cabinet posts.
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The revelation has led some members of the community to call for greater accountability and for councillors to publish a breakdown of how they spend their allowances.
John Hajdu, voluntary chairman of the Muswell Hill and Fortis Green, said: "Our two ward councillors in Muswell Hill, Martin Newton and Gail Engert are worth every penny and they work extremely hard.
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"However, like every Member of Parliament has to justify their expenses, it would be a good idea if all councillors were accountable to the electorate and told us how they spent our money.
"Ultimately it is up to the public who they represent to scrutinise the work they do and decide whether they do a good job."
The shock figures came as the Labour cabinet agreed at a full council meeting on Monday night to increase council tax by 44p a week for an average Band D household.
The Lib Dem opposition group, whose councillors are in receipt of some of the special allowances, have now called on the council to slim down the cabinet from nine to six posts. This would save an estimated �100,000 for local services.
Lib Dem Leader Cllr Robert Gorrie said: "In our alternative budget proposals we set out our plans to reduce the number of central councillor roles with an allowance and use the savings to take the council out around the borough.
"Our aim is to make the council more accessible and open to residents."
But Labour Chief Whip, Cllr Harry Lister was outraged by the suggestion.
He said: "The Labour group will not take lectures about how much money is spent on members' allowances from Liberal Democrats who have an appalling record in London."
Cllr Lister, who is entitled to �26, 250 per annum, added: "Instead of gunning for hard-working Labour members, perhaps they should ask themselves whether they are providing residents with value for money.
"At the last council meeting, less than two thirds turned up and, for the record, the three councillors with the lowest attendance rates are all Liberal Democrats with attendance of 32 per cent and two on 44 per cent.
"They are all happy to pick up their allowances of �10,500 and, while I don't believe you can judge a councillor's performance solely on the amount of time they spend in meetings, one Lib Dem collected their allowance for attending only six this year!"
Resident Clive Carter, of Stapleton Hall Road, said: "The council needs to remember that every pound that it spends has to be generated from the wider economy.
"When that is contracting severely, they need to cut their cloth accordingly.