IT's not bad being on the Rochdale Town Council gravy train these days! Certainly not for 'Fatty' (Richard) Farnell the leader of Rochdale MBC, who stands to get a pay rise of 51% in allowances.
Councellor Farnell now gets a Basic Councillor's Allowance of £7,812 plus a Special Responsibilities Allowance (SRA) as leader of the Council of £23,412. This adds up to £31,224.
Yesterday ROCHDALE ONLINE reported that 'The Council is considering raising the Basic Allowance for councillors by 34% to £10,451, which Councillor Farnell would benefit from. In addition, the SRA for the leader is set at three times the basic allowance and so Councillor Farnell's SRA as leader will rise from the current £23,412 to £31,353. Added to his Basic Allowance that will give Councillor Farnell £41,804. However, a new SRA is also being proposed, for being a member of the Greater Manchester Combined Authority, of £5,500, which would increase Councillor Farnell's allowances to £47,304. That is a rise on his current allowances of £16,080 (51%).'
Defending this rise by referring to the level of toil put in by local councilors, Councillor Farnell said: 'People may not realise it but our councillors spend many, many hours week in, week out serving their local communities and they get the second lowest amount in the region.'
Meanwhile on his own website Richard Farnell reminded the citizens of Rochdale: ‘We're preparing for another challenging savings programme, following reductions in government funding, rising costs and increased demand for our services. As we'll have less money in the future, fewer staff, we won't be able to do as much…’
Top of Councellor Farnell's list of cuts in Rochdale Borough Council's costs are given below:
Summary of key savings include:
•Reduced the council's workforce.
•Changed terms and conditions of staff.
The council worker's unions Unison, the GMB and UNITE, will no doubt be delighted to learn that their members might be in line for redundancy.
But there is more than a little humbug about Councillor Farnell's defence of his own pay rise in so far as in June 2014 another former Labour leader of Rochdale Council, Colin Lambert, was hauled before a parliamentary committee when he when he approved a pay rise for the then Rochdale MBC Chief Executive, Jim Taylor. That pay rise which amounted to not quite 30% was eventually turned down by the Rochdale's councilors.
But guess who was behind the campaign against the Chief Executive's pay rise and who got Colin Lambert dragged before the parliamentary committee? None other than Councillor 'Fatty' Farnell's old pal, Simon Danczuk, the now disgraced MP for Rochdale.
The proposal for the increased allowances will be considered at tomorrow's full Council meeting at Rochdale Town Hall.