Tuesday, 22 June 2021

Deputy Mayor’s allowance agreed

Deputy Mayor’s allowance agreed

AN allowance of £1,000 for the deputy mayor of Henley is to continue despite a claim that it is unnecessary.

This was introduced three years ago by the ruling Henley Residents Group on the council and the money is paid in two lump sums during the year instead of the incumbent having to make claims.

But Will Hamilton, who held the role when the Conservatives were power in 2016/17, said the deputy only substituted for the Mayor at events so should simply claim from the mayor’s allowance.

“That’s what happened when I was a deputy mayor,” he said, adding that he had claimed only £350.

But other members of the town council’s finance strategy and management committee disagreed.

Councillor Donna Crook (HRG) said the deputy mayor had to buy clothes specially and this could cost more for women — both the current Mayor and Deputy are female.

She said: “Councillor Hamilton, not everyone is as fortunate as you to have a wide range of clothing. You probably already had the clothes in your wardrobe.”

Councillor Lorraine Hillier (Ind Con) who was mayor in 2015/16, said that clothes to attend events such as the Henley Royal Regatta were expensive.

“In terms of the clothing it is a lot more expensive for a woman and I think it’s for that the Mayor and Deputy Mayor get an allowance,” she said.

She added that the chairman of South Oxfordshire District Council, a role she has also held, was given an allowance of £5,084 and the vice-chairman was allowed to spend in £1,526.

Councillor Stefan Gawrysiak (HRG) suggested that Deputy Mayor Michelle Thomas provided receipts for her claims.

But Councillor Laurence Plant (Con) pointed out that as all councillors could claim expenses with receipts anyway there wasn’t a need for an allowance.

Cllr Hillier responded: “It’s better to have the money there with you if you need to go out and buy an expensive outfit as it may be something you don’t wear in day-to-day life.”

Councillor Ian Reissmann (HRG), a former mayor who chairs the committee, said: “Also it’s difficult to claim anyway and one thing you buy a lot of as a mayor is raffle tickets and you don’t ask for a receipt for a raffle ticket.

“You’re making it harder for people who are on lower incomes to take these roles and I don’t think that’s right. For this year and in the future I would like £1,000 a year rising with inflation.”

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