Councillor refuses £942 – for chairing one hour meeting

Cheshire East Councillor, Sarah Pochin, has refused a special responsibility allowance – saying the £942 she would have received for chairing a one hour Cheshire East meeting is a ‘complete waste of council tax payers’ money’.

Conservative Councillor Pochin, who took over as chair of the public rights of way committee in May of this year, was chairing her second meeting on Monday (September 10th).

As the meeting was about to end, she told members that, according to Cheshire East’s policy, she was entitled to a £5,665 special responsibility allowance (SRA) over the year –- but she would not be accepting it.

She told committee members it was ‘absolutely ridiculous’ Cheshire East should pay her that for chairing a few meetings.

“As chairman of this committee I’m supposed to be paid £5,665 for chairing six meetings. That would mean for chairing this meeting, which has just been a whole hour, I think I would have received £942 so I can assure you that I have refused to take the SRA. It’s absolutely ridiculous and a complete waste of council tax payers’ money.”

Cllr Pochin, who represents the Willaston and Rope constituency, then went on to reassure her fellow committee members that her decision would in no way impact her commitment to running the committee.

“Please do not think it is any reflection on how important I think this committee is,” she said.

At a meeting of the full council in October last year, both Cllr Pochin and Cllr David Marren (Con) were applauded by opposition councillors and members of the public when they called for a change in the way the council is run.

Cllr Marren, who represents Haslington, called for changes to councillors’ allowances – and was critical of the way the cabinet is selected. The Conservative leader appoints Conservative councillors – and there is no vote with regard to who is appointed.

Cllr Marren said “Councillors selected for cabinet based on political allegiance, patronage, geography and payback clearly does not produce a particularly effective cabinet.”

Cllr Pochin spoke in October in favour of some committees being chaired by opposition councillors rather than Conservatives.

She argued the council should be scrutinised by opposition councillors.

At present all the scrutiny committees – which are set up to challenge decisions and hold the council to account – are chaired by Conservatives – and the Conservatives run the council and make the decisions.

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