Cllr Craig Browne - allowances

Cheshire East Council has turned down a proposal which would have allowed councillors to claim two special responsibility allowances, writes Belinda Ryan.

At present, councillors can only claim one special responsibility allowance (SRA).

The Independent Remuneration Panel (IRP) had recommended this be changed so an individual councillor could claim a maximum of two – for example if they chaired a committee and were vice chair of another.

This proposal was backed by Cheshire East’s corporate policy committee earlier this month.

But on Tuesday, it was narrowly refused at full council by 35 votes to 33, with six councillors abstaining.

The decision comes just a couple of weeks after Cllr Craig Browne (Ind) revealed he was standing down as deputy leader and chair of the highways committee because he couldn’t afford to stay in the roles as he only received an allowance for his leadership role and hadn’t had a penny for chairing highways for five years.

Yesterday, speaking in favour of the proposal to allow two SRAs, Cllr Browne told full council: “It’s about paying people for the role they are already fulfilling.”

The Alderley Edge councillor, who would not have benefited if it had been voted through because he stands down as deputy leader on March 1, said: “If a role prevents you from being able to go out and earn a full-time salary, as being leader or deputy leader does, then that role needs to pay a full-time salary in itself.”

Council leader Sam Corcoran (Sandbach, Lab) said: “There are some councillors who do rely on their allowances, some councillors who have given up work to do the roles that they do for the council.

“As council leader, I don’t want to be losing good councillors because they cannot afford to give up other work to take on another council role.”

Cllr Laura Crane (Sandbach, Lab) agreed.

“As a Labour member, if work is being done, then I expect those doing that work to be suitably reimbursed,” said Cllr Crane.

“What we’re talking about is a recommendation from the IRP – and it is not insisting that those with two responsibilities claim those allowances, but it is giving the option for them to do that.”

But other councillors disagreed.

Cllr Nicola Cook (Sandbach, Ind) said: ”When Cheshire East Council moved to a committee structure, it did so to ensure that decision-making was not centralised in a small cabinet of councillors.

“The payment of two SRAs effectively incentivises a small group of councillors to undertake more than one role.

“This, in my view, undermines the decision-making and I believe that our decision-making will be the worse for it.”

Cllr Liz Wardlaw, a former deputy leader of Cheshire East under the previous Conservative administration, said: “I’m in full agreement that the job is hard and that, in fact, we probably are under remunerated for it, but two allowances to one councillor doesn’t make sense. Spread the load.”

The move to allow councillors to have two SRAs was defeated with the Conservative group and some Independents voting against it.

The council also voted to freeze councillor allowances for this financial year and for there to be a full review of all member allowances by the new Independent Remuneration Panel.


  1. Dear Mr Shaw,
    I am sure you can explain how Cheshire East Council committed and spent 11million pounds of council tax payers money on HS2 without securing secured funding from the Treasury?
    Tell me please what was the business case to purchase three thousand phones for employees. I accept there are mangers and staff who need phones for critical and health and safety issues. Explain why 500 phones were not used, at £500 per unit that amounts £250,000. Perhaps under Freedom of Information you may know what specific criteria was established to determine who should be entitled to a phone.
    Explain since 1994 why Council Tax has risen by 350%. I know central government funding has been reduced. However the council tax revenues from the major increase in housing stock has added hugely to Local Authorities Income stream.
    I have lived in Nantwich, since 1994 if my income had increased by the same percentage I would be laughing.
    Living in a democracy I think the public have a democratic right to challenge and question how the taxes are spent. I believe there needs to be improved levels of transparency.
    I would also ask Central Government the same questions. If financial waste was reduced it would help the tax payer.
    As a point George Osbourne as Chancellor introduced The Adult Social Care precept which in the current financial year is £234 per annum for a band e property.
    In tax year 2010/2011 the Nantwich Town Council Precept was £34.34.
    In Tax Year 2023/ 2024 that had increased incrementally to £186.83. That is a five fold increase. The percentage increases have a compound effect as we all understand.
    As a resident of Nantwich I cannot evidence any additional visible benefits. I have never objected to paying tax, I only asks for their taxes to spent wisely and see value for money.
    People of the United Kingdom are today being taxed at the highest levels since World War 2. Council Tax forms an integral part of the overall taxation.
    The Counsellors and Employees are similar to Trustees they have a moral fiduciary responsibility to ensure financial prudence to the community they serve. That is all I ask.

  2. You seem to be very sure about a lot of things happening in Cheshire East Council with little, or no, evidence. There are very many examples of private sector companies which are very poorly run and fail to adapt to change resulting in closure and loss of many jobs. There are many Local Authorities in England in a far worse financial position than Cheshire East. However my experience as a Chief Officer in several nearby Local Authorities does lead me to believe some of the services could be more efficient and effective so it is up to the new Chief Executive to guide the Council in the right direction.

  3. Mr Graham .It was the investment banks which created the problem. I know many individuals who worked in high street banks were subject to abuse. I am not abusing any one. I am addressing the fact that both counsellors, executives and managers are held both responsible and accountable for incompetence and failure to deliver value for money for the tax payers.
    Management restructures are normal practice in the private sector, why should this not apply to Local Authorities. It is tax payers money you spend.
    I agree there have been failures in the Private Sector. Executives and Employees have paid the cost for those failures. Ask National Westminster Staff and their shareholders. Share holders will carry the ultimate burden for failure of public limited companies.
    Fred Goodwin their Chief Executive lost his knighthood to my knowledge. It was also a failure of Government Regulation at the time.
    Sadly most politicians are coated with ‘ Teflon’ As we know they are rarely held accountable for the unintended consequences of their policies. Ask those people in the Private Sector who lost out on the benefits of their final salary pensions. Those pensions were replaced by Money Purchase Schemes. Historical benefits were not lost. This followed Gordon Brown’s taxation changes to pension funds. The cost to pension members to day is approximately £250 Billion according to my research. There will be generation in the future struggling to retire on decent incomes.
    The Post Office is not a Private Sector organisation it owned by the government. My hope all the executives involved will be held to account collectively and personally. Thank goodness for Mr Bates vs the Post Office.
    Sadly there are several example of poor policy and actions within Cheshire East Council. I am sure there may be other issues the public are not aware of.
    Tell me where did all the receipts go from the sale of Crewe and Nantwich Housing Stock following the receipts of the monies from the 1980 Housing Act and the Right to Buy. I would think those monies should have gone into reserves. I would welcome your knowledge on this question.
    Personally I was a senior manger in a mutual financial organisation. That organisation never called upon the Treasury for funds.
    Private Sector mangers will be dismissed for failure and incompetence. There is a very different management culture.
    The tax payer has a right to hold Local Authorities to account for waste and poor decision making. You are right that the failure in the world of banking should hold executives to account.
    There is a distinct lack of transparency sadly within the Local Authorities.
    Information often provided appears very selective.
    It has to remain the democratic right of society to challenge policy, decisions, actions, whether decisions benefit the communities that the Local Authority Serves. Finally whether those implemented policies result in value. Essentially Local Authorities are there to serve the communities they represent.

  4. Gosh, yes! We only have to think of the brilliant examples of private sector performance to see how wonderful most firms are.
    Like the banks. What a contribution they made to the economy…. Or the Post Office, they really know how to run a caring, efficient service…… Or the Water Companies, what an improvement they have made to the environment…. Or Deliveroo, or Brewdog or Amazon, they really know how to treat their staff… Or British Telecom and their outstanding customer service (dial 22 to speak to a robot, please hold, your call is important to us)… . Or the companies that managed HS2 so well… Or the tiny salaries that so many private sector chief executives struggle by on..No. I don’t really agree with Mr Hughes.

  5. This decision was absolutely correct. The next move should be a full analysis of manpower planning and a full management restructure of the Council, Its managers and all officers. This happens all the time in the private sector. I am sure in parts Cheshire East Council employs individuals who are either incompetent or are non performers or both. The Private Sector weeds these individuals out. It is called Conduct and Capability. The appraisal system combined with detailed management performance agreements supports this process. All combined with SMARTER Objectives. It can be achieved.
    If the private sector you are rewarded for achieving objectives and results not for all the talk. Talk is easy, The tax payer has a right to see their taxes deliver value for money.
    There should be immediate ban on recruitment, if there is a need to recruit it should be taken at executive level. This information should be made available on the Cheshire East Website so the public can see what is actually going on within the Council.
    They forget it is the tax payer who pays their salaries, their very generous pensions not available in the private sector.
    They could start by mapping out the number of Counsellors we actually need to represent the communities who they are suppose to represent.
    There are definite savings to be made by a reduction in the number of Counsellors we need in Cheshire East.
    I am sure the boundaries are based on historical factors. This could be changed. Reduction in expenses and allowances would save a considerable about of money. Less Counsellors, greater economies to scale could quite easily allow for an increase in allowances based on performance and results that serve the electorate.
    It is obvious that some Counsellors do not in reality serve the communities they represent.
    The Chief Executive earns more than the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom. We can vote out the government. Food for thought!!!
    Action and Results is what is required.
    I thank those Conservative Counsellors and others who voted to defeat this motion. Well done, this is a start in the right direction.

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