The Council considered a report from the Independent Panel on Members Allowances about its review of the Council`s Scheme of Members Allowances.

Mr Alan Morgan, Chairman of the Independent Panel was present to answer any questions from Members.

On a motion from Councillor Francine Haeberling seconded by Councillor Malcolm Hanney it was RESOLVED that the Council:

(1)     Approves in full the recommendations of the Independent Panel as set out in Appendix 2 to these minutes, subject to the amendments set out in italics being made for the reasons stated in that Appendix and that the Council`s Scheme of Members` Allowances be amended accordingly.

(2)     Agrees that the amendments approved at this meeting to the Scheme of Members` Allowances be backdated to the day after the Council’s Annual General Meeting (18th May 2007) and paid retrospectively on that basis.

(3)     Agrees that any payments of Special Responsibility Allowances (SRAs) made to Councillors during the period from then until the date of this Council Meeting for undertaking duties which are no longer eligible for an SRA under the amendments to the Scheme now approved be not recovered.

(4)     Agrees that the Council moves to the new Allowance rates for 2007/08 recommended in this report without applying any retrospective backdated inflationary uplift to the 2006/07 level of Allowances that have been paid in 2007/08 prior to this report being considered.

(5)     Agrees that the Council continues its existing policy that, because the costs of any SRAs paid to the Chair or the members of the Avon Pension Fund Committee are charged to the Pension Fund, those SRAs may be paid in full to those Councillors even if they are in receipt of another SRA from the Council.

(6)     Agrees that the Council incorporates into the Scheme of Members` Allowances a provision that, where a Member is suspended or partially suspended from his/her responsibilities or duties as a Councillor in accordance with Part 111 of the Local Government Act 2000 or Regulations made under the Act, the part of the Allowance(s) payable to him/her during the suspension period may be withheld by the Council.

(7)     Requests the Solicitor to the Council to implement the recommendations of the Independent Panel on:

(a)         Drawing up guidance for Councillors on what is and is not covered by the non-taxable incidental expenses allowance.

(b)         Publishing an annual register of Councillors` attendance at Full Council, Cabinet, Panel and Committee meetings.

(8)     Authorises the Solicitor to the Council, following consultation with the Cabinet Member for Resources, to meet the costs of the Allowances payments under the revised Scheme of Members` Allowances as amended at this meeting including any backdating arrangements.

(9)     Authorises the Solicitor to the Council to implement any changes to the Council`s Scheme of Members` Allowances necessary to give effect to the decisions made at this meeting.

(10) Places on record the Council`s thanks to the Chairman and the members of the Independent Panel for their work on this review.

(11) Notes that the anticipated cost of the Scheme for the 2007/08 Council Year is likely to be no more than £730,851, a reduction of at least £71,500 on the previous year’s cost of £802,180.

(Note: The above resolution was carried with the majority of  Councillors voting in favour, no Councillors voting against and 3  Councillors abstaining from voting.)


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