At last night’s Isle of Wight council (IWC) meeting a majority of members voted in favour of establishing a new Independent Remuneration Panel (IRP), and securing another index-linked rise in allowances from April 2021, but not without strong words from Cllrs Brodie and Peacey-Wilcox.
Following the debacle surrounding the treatment by the council of two former IRP members, reported here at News OnTheWight and subsequently in Private Eye (No.1541 pg 21) the Monitoring Officer, Chris Potter, decided to establish a new Panel (these are the people who recommend changes to councillors’ allowances).
Two former officers on the Panel
The recommendations come from an ‘informal meeting’ of another newly-formed Appointments Panel – chaired by the council leader, no less – which saw four new IRP members suggested, two of which are former IWC staff, Tracey Ringer and Chris Mathews.
At last night’s meeting Cllr Geoff Brodie (Ind Labour) said the council had got “into a mess” over members’ allowances last September and laid out the issues previously reported on by News OnTheWight and Private Eye.
Challenged over comments
Cllr Richard Hollis (Con) picked up on comments made by Cllr Brodie about the former interim Monitoring Officer, saying,
“What Cllr Brodie is saying is, I think, one, libellous and secondly, the person concerned has no right of reply and that does not sit comfortably in any civilised debate.”
Three other councillors were clearly heard saying “I agree”.
Cllr Hollis asked him to retract the comments or leave the meeting, neither of which he did.
‘Apology’ from Monitoring Officer
Cllr Lora Peacey-Wilcox (Island Indie) explained her part in the IRP saga, in that she had informed the Monitoring Officer following September’s meeting that IRP members were unhappy they had not been consulted about the proposed allowance rise.
The councillor read out parts of a letter to the former IRP members from the Monitoring Officer including, that “he was concerned they both felt they were treated with contempt and further apologised for a communication breakdown”.
Selection panel chaired by Council leader
Following the meeting, Cllr Brodie told News OnTheWight,
“Some of us felt entirely misled last September into voting for increases for 2019 and 2020 that we were told had already been recommended by the previous IRP.
“However, the previous IRP were subsequently adamant that they had expected to be consulted first, but hadn’t been. Last night a vote was pushed through again for another index-linked increase from April 2021 based on those so-called recommendations. Along with most independents I voted against this, but the political parties – Conservative, LibDem and Vectis supported it.
“Not content with that, the political councillors also supported the appointment of a new IRP that had been selected by a panel chaired by the Council leader. That does not strike me as ensuring independence, particularly as the leader is the main beneficiary of the allowances scheme.”
Peacey-Wilcox: Shambolic, totally disrespectful and quite frankly insulting
Cllr Lora Peacey-Wilcox (Island Indie) praised the two former IRP members, telling News OnTheWight,
“I cannot speak highly enough of Max and Mike. Indeed, Max is so highly thought of in top government he was sent as number one Governor to deal with the issues following the three escaped prisoners.
“The IWC were very lucky to have two dedicated, extraordinarily intellectual men offer their service. Their treatment by this council is shambolic, totally disrespectful and quite frankly insulting.”
The report and vote
For the year 2021/2022 the allowance is £8,231.38. The full report can be found below.
The vote as per the recommendation in the paper was:
- Cllr Abraham (Con)
- Cllr Bertie (Con)
- Cllr Beston (Con)
- Cllr Brading (Con)
- Cllr Churchman (Con)
- Cllr Hasting (Con)
- Cllr Hendry (Con)
- Cllr Hobart (Con)
- Cllr Hollis (Con)
- Cllr Hutchinson (Con)
- Cllr Kilpatrick (Con)
- Cllr Mosdell (Con)
- Cllr Nicholson (Con)
- Cllr Outlaw (Con)
- Cllr Peace (Con)
- Cllr Price (Con)
- Cllr Quirk (Con)
- Cllr Tyndall (Con)
- Cllr Ward (Con)
- Cllr Whittle (Con)
- Cllr Howe (Island Indie)
- Cllr Barry (LibDem)
- Cllr Garratt (LibDem)
- Cllr Perks (Vectis Party)
- Cllr Medland (Island Indie)
- Cllr Stewart (Con)
- Cllr Andre (Island Indie)
- Cllr Downer (Island Indie)
- Cllr Fuller (Island Indie)
- Cllr Lilley (Island Indie)
- Cllr Peacey-Wilcox (Island Indie)
- Cllr Jones-Evans (Ind Members Group)
- Cllr Love (Ind Members Group)
- Cllr Brodie (Ind Lab)
- Cllr Stephens (Island Ind Network)
- Cllr Murwill (Ind)
- Cllr Smart (Island Indie)
There were no abstentions.